Doubting ourselves

Doubting ourselves

“Do you think people would think we’re a bit weird?” I question Mr Sidestepping-normal. We’re walking through the olive groves surrounding our house wearing a glove each whilst picking up sheep poo. The shepherd has recently been through with a few hundred sheep and never one to miss an opportunity, we’re capitalising. Manure is the currency, one mans rubbish is another mans gold, when life throws you sheep shit, don gloves and find a bucket…that’s what we say.

Our vegetable garden has been crying out for some nutrients. Seek and ye shall find, as they say…and what d’ya know…sheep poo arrives in our path…literally. It’s nice to wander around doing such a mundane job. It’s surprising how childlike we feel as we compare how much we’ve collected. 

The flock of sheep that passes our house…

Inviting the media in…

The last few days have left us feeling drained. We willingly told our story to a news agency and thought we were prepared for some negative feedback. In hindsight it’s caught us off guard. How much criticism can you attract from living a natural lifestyle in Greece? It’s hardly offensive is it? You’d be surprised.

Until recently we’ve been protected in this little safe haven we’ve created. Then several media outlets covered our story and it suddenly feels like we’re being forced to flee the nest and flutter our wings for the first time, whilst being scrutinised and judged. There’s no room for error. We fly or we fall.

Sticks and stones…

It’s early March and we’re driving into Rethymno. The rain is hammering on the windscreen and our view ahead is distorted. Mr SN has years of experience driving motorbikes and finds it quite unnecessary to clear the windscreen. Consequently we drive along whilst squinting and peering through the raindrops. I’m sorry to all opticians wincing at our unnecessary eye strain – take it up with my husband.

Just before we headed out the door, we made the mistake of reading the comments below the articles written about us. Who knew that people could be so mean. It’s been astonishing to see people judging, criticising, scrutinising and jumping to conclusions. As tempting as it is to bite back, we refuse to engage. Mr SN really couldn’t give a monkeys what people say about him. I on the other hand am much more sensitive. We have nothing to prove to anybody but ourselves, yet I mull over the negative feedback and do the unthinkable…I actually question what we are doing. This is something I don’t usually do. We are fearless. To us, fear is an illusion that tries to trick you into thinking you can’t succeed. If you fear failing then you will never succeed. Full stop.

As we drive along I sink into a silent stupor. I can’t stand being misunderstood, I’m not stupid, we aren’t naive, we won’t fail. I feel like I’m trying my best but it’s not good enough. Some people don’t like me despite not knowing me. That’s hard for me to accept. 

“Some people don’t like me despite not knowing me. That’s hard for me to accept.”

We’re on the return journey from Rethymno. The latest demands of the electricity company (before they agree to connect Walnut cottage) have been completed. The weather has blown over and the sun is shining. The snow capped white mountains stand illuminated in the sunlight. We quickly pop into a bakery for cheese pies, which I subsequently drop in a puddle just before we get to the car. Could things get any worse? We apply the 5 second rule and devour them anyway. 

Finding support…

The following days pass in a blur of news articles and sheep poo collection. Then, through the sea of haters emerges a wave of support. We start to receive messages from people congratulating us and admiring our bravery. There are people asking for advice, and wanting to share their story. There are others out there just like us, they understand our choices and wish us well. My mindset begins to shift and I can begin to laugh at some of the absurd things people are saying about us.

Our top 5 favourite negative comments:

It was difficult to compile our top 5 comments out of so many, but these ones had the edge. I can now read these with utter amusement…they really make me laugh. I’m thinking of making #1 into a sign to hang in the garden…what do you think?

1)“Hopefully after Brexit the Greeks will throw out this pair of lazy scrounging hippies. Get back to the UK and start contributing.”

2)”How can they access their pension at that age already ? I can’t access my retirement funds from the state for quite some time and not from my private fund either. Shouldn’t we be asking questions about how they have managed to get round this ? Did they disclose their correct ages when they drew funds ?”

3)”What about health insurance or pension plans? What will they live on when they get old and can’t even do low paid jobs? Totally irresponsible. Do they have any kind of social life? Friends? Can they even communicate with their neighbours? They’ll end up very lonely one day.”

4)”Dog walking – how about getting a proper job , rather than wasting their lives. Do an open university course if they are not educated.”

5)”Nice in theory but it’ll get old and stultifying in pretty short order, especially for her. She’ll get bored, start talking about having kids and divorce him. We all know it.”

Positivity prevails…

We’re on the terrace. It’s early. The sun is blinding and we squint into the dazzling light. We’re still in our pyjamas drinking tea. The birds are chattering and the almond tree is in blossom.

“Just how long can they endure that lifestyle?” I mimic in a sarcastic tone. We both stare at each other before giggling. “I just can’t take it any more; book me a flight home.” I tease.

I’m back on track after my fleeting dip into despair. My usual thirst for life is back and I make a list of the jobs I want to get done today. The eternal optimist within me sees the last few days as a lesson. I’ve thus learned that a) We will never fail because there’s no such thing as failure, only experience. b) Sheep poo works miracles in the garden. c) Beware of dropping cheese pies in puddles, they go very soggy.

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74 thoughts on “Doubting ourselves

  1. I’m sorry to read that you have had negative feedback – I read the article in a newspaper and thought you came across really well! I have pure admiration (and jealously) for you following your dreams! Ignore the haters – they’ve obviously never seen a Greek sunset!!

  2. Ignore the haters, they’re either jealous or ignorant, or both! What you’re doing sounds amazing, I’m sure you’ll make a success things but even if it doesn’t work out you will have had a great adventure (but I’m sure you will succeed ?) Love reading your blog, looking forward to the next one x

    1. I love #2 as well?

      I also love #3…the best bit was the reply to the persons comment…somebody replied with “it’s not your problem is it” ?

  3. I think you are both very spirited and following your heart! I wish you both all the luck in the world. We (my husband and I) lived mainly in Vrysses amongst other areas, 12 years ago…after just short of 4 years there we had to return to the U.K. during the financial crisis, but we had made and still have, some wonderful Greek close friends on Crete. We go back every year to catch up with them and it feels like we never left. We hope to return in a few years and live just as you both are doing. Watching you on tv has been both inspiring and heartwarming. Thank you, long may you flourish on Crete.

    1. Thank you!
      It sounds like you had an amazing time and made lots of memories out here. Crete is such a special island.

      All the best?

  4. Hi came across your site I have been going to Crete for 20 years wish I had the courage that you two guys have who wouldn’t want out of the rat race don’t even give a second thought to the bad vibes looking forward to looking you guys up in July or Aug where ever you are is it outside rethmynon love fiona

  5. I have skim read, I’m tired really and trying to prise my phone from my hand!
    Please learn to ignore those haters. It matters not what they think. Be strong and be happy. It has taken me much longer to realise what is important. You seem to have a lovely situation, enjoy it. You cannot change any negativity from others but you can change (with effort) how it makes you feel. And take up meditating. It makes everything seem much clearer. Lots of love xxx

    1. Thanks for your support, it really means a lot. Make sure you get a good nights sleep?

  6. Crete is beautiful, I’m not surprised that you made the decisions you did. I envy your fearlessness and wish I had just a small amount of it myself.

    1. We feel scared sometimes too. The first step is always the hardest but then it gets easier and easier?

  7. An amazing read. Just started to follow after watch my new greek life on the box. I’m a Poli e officer about to retire in November and me and my wife Helen are selling up, buying aotorhome and hitting the open road. Eventually we plan to settle in a property with some land to like similar to yourselves. Who knows. Keep up the blog. I am really interested and may seek some advice later. The haters are gonna hate – that is why we fledge the rat race. Yammas

    1. Thank you! How exciting, November will be here before you know it. Great plan to hit the road in a motorhome, sounds idyllic to me.

      Don’t hesitate if you need any advice, yammas!?

  8. Please don’t get upset by the morons that knock you, we who know you know what a wonderful couple you are and have nothing but admiration for you and all you have achieved, sending our love x x x

  9. Love reading your blog and Crete.
    Since i’m not based in the UK is there an online link to watch “my new greek life” ?
    Keep shining on… that will surely blind negativity.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hello! Thanks for your lovely comment. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a way to view it online. We are thinking of starting a youtube channel though?

        1. Aww thanks. Lots of people are interested in the youtube channel idea…we’re mulling it all over. Yes we are keeping well, the world is definitely a crazy place at the moment! Take care.

  10. Ignore the negativity. I imagine, like many others, I only found out about your blog after reading the article in The Metro. Your life sounds idyllic. I would think that if you manage to generate more traffic on your blog as a result of the articles. It will create still further opportunities for you. At the very least, it will help supply your rental with customers!

    1. I love your comment? yes you are quite right, it’s opening doors and opportunities that would have otherwise been hard to come by. We’ll use it to our advantage.

  11. People who haven’t been bitten by The Crete Virus may never understand it! We bought a house in Kritsa near Agios Nikolaos a few years ago. For the moment it’s just for holidays, but we plan to move there within the next few years. So for now, I do my greek homework on the train (presently reading Where the Wild Things Are in Greek, which is great, but makes barely any literal sense) – – and the bloke indoors and I talk wistfully about where we’d be and what we’d be doing if we were in Greece. We loved watching you on the show – and have no doubt you’ll have a long and lovely life there! Love reading your blog too. When will it be a book!!!!!?????

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job with the Greek homework…I really must get my books out and push myself a bit harder.

      We used to imagine what we’d be doing in Crete too. We’d be huddled in the freezing caravan eating dinner dreaming of warm evenings and spanakopitas!

      Funny you should ask…I’m writing the book at the moment!?

      All the best.

  12. Perhaps less eloquently than your other respondents, but suggest you take a ‘bollocks to them’ approach to the negative comments! You’ve clearly got the courage to pursue the things you want so don’t be deterred. We bought a place in Panormo 15 years ago (wow, that’s making me feel old) and I love every second we spend there….and spend the time when I’m working back in the UK looking forward to getting back out there again! Good on you for making a great life in this fabulous part of Crete. (And let us know if you fancy a coffee in Perama over Easter!!)

    1. Hahaha! We love your comment! Straight to the point! Yes you’re right, we’ll take your advice? A coffee sounds lovely, let us know nearer the time.

  13. I also discovered you through one of the newspaper articles and have loved catching up on your blog. It’s great that you had the courage to follow your dreams and I like your tips on living a more sustainable life.

    1. Hiya! The newspapers have definitely got our name out there, we’re thankful for that and I suppose a few negative comments along the way are worth it all. Living sustainably has always been really important to us. We’ve found that it’s a really slow process to make changes, but we get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the small differences we are making. Thanks for reading the blog?

    1. It’s a pleasure to have you on the journey with us! If we can uplift and inspire people then we’re succeeding. Thank you?

  14. Hi. We have a had place not far from Chania for almost 3 years now. We ‘ve seen the programme but not read the article. All I’d say re the ‘comments’ is as others have said is ignore them. They haven’t the bottle to do things themselves and take pleasure in criticising others. They want you to respond to them and in that way they’ll think they’ve won – and no matter what you say you’ll still be wrong. Just ignore them and spend the time living your lives to the full.
    We have a place near Maleme that we’ve been in for almost 3 years. We are still learning about Cretan culture and hope you’ll be able to use you’re media profile to let others know about things like name days as against birthdays, washing days and how the diet in the orthodox lent is restricted to things that do not have blood. And of course the Battle of Crete day is coming up soon and the role played by Britain and others helping support the island after the invasion. You’ll see the jets fly by from where you are.
    Best wishes for the future

    1. Hiya! Thanks for commenting, everyone has been so lovely here on the blog? I love to have feedback on what people would like read about. The culture and customs on Crete are so interesting and I’d love to learn more and write about them. You’ve got me thinking about ideas. All the best.

  15. People can be so cruel on social media, they say things they would never say to your face. Ignore them, some of the comments are so stupid you have to laugh at them for their ignorance. We live here in Chania prefecture for part of the year and can understand why you love the island. Good luck and keep it up

    1. Thank you! The wave of support has countered the negativity.
      Some of the comments really are funny!

  16. Dont worry about silly comments.
    People are fickle and dont understand.
    Enjoy what you are doing.
    We got married in Chania in 1999 and in 2001 we bought an old ruin near Kissamos.
    Unfortunately we did not have lots of money so had to carry on working to pay for the renovation.
    I actually loved my job and worked for a Japanese company which rewarded hard work and respected family life.
    We actually moved permanently in 2015 and my comoany allowed me to work and travel to meetings from here in Crete.
    I retired completely in 2018 and we always wished we did this when we were younger and did exactly what you are doing.
    UK us only a few hours away for emergencies and soon in April the cheaper flights arrive and we can gi and see our lovely grandchildren etc.
    Keep doing it and dobt let the doubters get you down. They obviously have no dreams and no gumption and sad lives.
    Best of luck
    Andrew and June

    1. Hi Andrew and June,

      Thanks for your lovely message. It sounds like you’ve been in love with Crete for a long time.
      You’ve done the stone ruin renovation and made it out the other end, that’s encouraging for us to hear! Any advice along the way will be much appreciated!

      We are excited for the Spring and summer too, I bet you can’t wait to see your grandchildren.

      Keep in touch.

  17. All the criticism from those jealous idiots is just the proof you both need to say to yourselves what a great life you have taken on. Enjoy xxx

  18. Sadly the world seems full of people who are bitter and twisted and are ultimately probably jealous of the life you have chosen and are working so hard to create! I, for one, say hats off to you! I have no doubt you’ll succeed and I too am jealous of you…but in only the way way! ☀️ ?? ? x

  19. Tiggy Drummond
    March 11, 2020 at 9:56 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Sadly the world seems full of people who are bitter and twisted and are ultimately probably jealous of the life you have chosen and are working so hard to create! I, for one, say hats off to you! I have no doubt you’ll succeed and I too am jealous of you…but in only a good way! ☀️ ?? ? x

    1. Hi! Thank you, it’s amazing to have so much support. We’ll continue to keep working hard?

  20. My wife and I watched My Greek Life. We admired your courage in moving to Crete when you did. You are the outstanding inspirational people of everyone who featured on the programme.
    We visit Crete twice per year, looking for the place we would like to buy a retirement property.
    95% of your critics will be those narrow minded people who voted Brexit to end these Freedoms.
    Thanks to them we will probably have to accelerate our plans, not by much, to get Greek residency by the end of 2021. Stay positive and good luck for the future,

    1. Hello! Thanks for your support?
      How exciting! Have you narrowed down what area you’d like to buy your property yet?

      1. Broadly Lasithi, favourite place would probably be Kavousi, however Mrs T has seen cheaper properties now in Fourni / Kasteli area (near Neapoli) which would suit us. We are familiar with the Panormos area having stayed in a village called Alfa which is close to you I think? Lovely area, great base for climbing Psiloritis and visiting Anogia another place I really like. Probably go back to Alfa, as part of our next Cretan road trip in June. All the best to you both.

        1. It all sounds so exciting, I love looking at properties even when I’m not looking to buy one! Yes, Alfa isn’t far from us and Anogia is up the road.
          Whatever you decide I wish you all the best?

  21. Crude as it may seem, stick two digits up to the doubters. Jealousy is an awful thing as it makes normally sane people bitter at others who have the testicles to live out dreams (if that makes literate sense). For two people so young I for one like your outlook on life ? the 5 second rule works with my 3grandsons,

    1. we LOVE your comment! I’m in the kitchen reading comments our to Mr SN and we both laughed at your message. Thank you?

  22. First time I’ve ever posted to something like this. Great read. You only need to answer to yourselves. I suspect the negativity Is driven by jealously combined with ignorance. I applaud your bravery and hope I can find such resolve to consider a similar change.

    1. Hello! Thanks for your lovely upbeat message. It feels like we’re creating a little community of people who are positive and courageous.

      You can achieve whatever you desire, when you break it down into little steps it becomes less daunting. Keep in touch – we are just as interested in you as you are in us?

  23. This world would be a much better place without the haters and non-dreamers of all kinds !
    Don’t be discouraged, your choice is to follow your dreams. It’s the right choice.
    All you need now iS a few kids (not talking about sheep….) !!

  24. Yiassas! My husband and I visited Crete many times; usually in the Chania area. We loved it so much that we moved there when we retired. He unfortunately died after one year following a short illness. I returned hone to old Blighty but I shall never forget how wonderful the island and its people are. Follow your dreams, Crete is a marvellous, restful place. Perhaps I may see you one day in the future, who knows? Good luck to you both.

    1. Yiasas! I’m sorry to hear that you lost your husband. You must have some wonderful memories from over the years.

      It really is a stunning place. Yes, you never know, our paths may cross at some point:)

  25. My Sister and Brother-in-law both retired when they hit their late 40’s and left to live on a Greek island (Leros) they had both fell in love with whilst on holiday a number of years before. I visited them both a couple of years ago and have to say, it wasn’t for me, but that not to say I’m right and they’re wrong.
    They’re both very happy over there (been left now for about 7 years) although my sister does get a little homesick now and again, mainly because she misses her mom, but I know the good days far outweigh the bad.
    Anyone who chooses to make such a massive life change as you have done should be really proud of themselves. So, ignore the Muppets and the haters and console yourself in the fact that you’ll never have to spend a minute of your valuable new life in their company! Good luck to you both, enjoy every moment and make some wonderful memories.

    1. Hello! Thanks for your lovely comment, all the support here on the blog is amazing. We’re surrounded by such lovely positive people?
      Good on your sister and brother-in-law for making the leap, it sounds like it’s really paid off for them.

  26. I have just spent the last hour ( possibly even longer ) since I woke reading your latest blog and catching up on your previous ones whilst drinking my early morning mug of tea! My hubby & I love all your stories of life in Crete and have been hooked since watching you both on the series ‘My Greek Life’ . We admire you and wish you both all the luck in the world for living your dream. If only we were 30 years younger …….. xx

    1. Hello! Awww thank you so much for reading the blog, I’m glad you are enjoying it. You can’t beat that first cup of tea in the morning- we’ve just had ours?

      It’s a pleasure to sweep you up on the journey with us, I’m starting to realise that this blog is so much bigger than us and our story. The amount of people that have got in touch has been staggering. Some want to share their stories, some to ask for advice and others love living it vicariously.

      Thanks for your support, I’ll continue to write.
      Keep in touch from time to time?

  27. Hi Darlings don’t u allow anyone to judge your achievements they jealous. I love collecting poo lmao ???

  28. I also love Crete, just so much about it which I absolutely adore.
    I’m amazed you’ve had negative comments, is this typical British-and i’m British

    1. It’s mostly British, but some other countries too. We walked into our village yesterday and the feedback was really good. Lots of people had seen the article in the Greek newspapers and liked it. It’s actually accelerated our integration as more people know who we are now…It’s all been worth it in the end.

  29. Ignore negative people, they will only make you feel down. I think what you’re doing is great, I wish I had some of your ‘get up and go’ 🙂

    1. Thank you, ignoring the comments altogether has made us feel better. All of the support has been amazing?

  30. I think it is great what you are doing! It seems people often criticize what they do not know or people who do not fit in the mould. And who knows… maybe they are just a bit jealous? In any event, continue what you are doing! It is fantastic and it is your life!

  31. I see only envy in those mean comments. Just have a good laugh and go on with your day. I admire you for your courage and you gave me a little bit of hope in pursuing my dream of having a little house in a greek island. Your story made me believe that I can do this without a bank loan – since I can’t take a loan due to the fact that I am a photographer and they see me as not a permanent income holder although I make money every month of the year and pay taxes.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment. The fact that I can give others some hope of achieving their dreams really makes me happy. I get quite angry at all the regulations and rules enforced by banks and governments, some of them penalise hard working people for no reason.

      I wish you the best of luck, let me know as your plans unfold. I’m truly interested in others people’s adventures as much as our own?

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