Friday, 15 June 2018

The Botanical Gardens in Fournes Crete



On my recent trip to Crete, I had the opportunity to visit the Botanical Gardens at Fournes. I learnt that the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete was reborn from the ashes after a devastating fire spread in October 2004. The wild fire started when an  electricity pole was struck by a storm near the village of Skordalou.The fire burnt for more than 24 hours and destroyed the entire surrounding area burning down Orange groves and over 60,000 olive trees some over 400 years old. The charred olive tree still remains standing sad and forlorn in the gardens as a reminder of that tragic day.



The village was ruined both financially and ecologically and many people lost everything they owned. Farm land was burnt to ashes. Petros Marinakis and his two brothers who also lost much of their farmland decided to rebuild the burnt land and turn it into a Botanical garden that would be open to the public for trekking, education and recreation. It would also create jobs for the villagers who lost their livelihood in the fire.



Work began on the Botanical gardens and with lots of research and careful planning it opened its doors in 2010. Petros and his brothers decided to divide the Botanical Gardens into sections; Tropical, Mediterranean, Wine section and the Lake. 



The gardens have 3 different climate zones; Tropical, Sub tropical and Alpine. Within the different zones you will find fruit trees, spices, herbs, medicinal plants, citrus trees, and tropical plants and Alpine shrubs and trees. Crete has a micro climate and all the different variety of plants grow easily in the gardens.The gardens are tended by local gardeners from nearby villages.



The Botanical Gardens also grow their own vegetables that are used for their Cretan restaurant on site. All the produce is organic and seasonal and the chefs create recipes according to what ingredients are available. 




There is a shop on site that sells honey made from the gardens own bees, together with olive oils and other Cretan products, olives, cook books and delicacies. The Gardens are open from March to November.




To generate extra income the gardens host music festival, put on traditional dance shows and local music shows for the public in their amphitheatre overlooking the beautiful gardens and hill tops. 




They also support the smaller farmers, provide employment for the local people and help to bring tourism to Crete.




During our visit to the gardens, we were lucky to have the opportunity to have a Cretan cookery class by one of their resident chefs Emilios Asllanis. Emilios is very passionate about his cooking and makes recipes he has learnt from his mother and grandmother. How lovely it is to see him carry forward the Cretan cooking he has grown up with.





We made Marathopita a fennel pie, Haroupopitaki a carob pastry filled with a spinach and cheese, which we had for our lunch in The Olive Restaurant together with lots of other delicious Cretan dishes.



The restaurant serves delicious local Cretan Cuisine that is freshly prepared daily using the finest home grown produce. I was totally mesmerised by the pots of stew bubbling on outdoor oven that they have. There can't be a more authentic way to cook than this.




It was a wonderful and most enjoyable experience looking around the gardens which were tranquil, spiritual and offered majestic views. We even spotted a peacock resting amongst the trees.




I would highly recommend a visit to the Botanical gardens if you visit Crete. The tour of the gardens is very educational and interesting. You can even take a rest on the benches just to enjoy and savour the peacefulness and hear the peacocks.




To look around the gardens at a leisurely pace and finish off with lunch I would probably allow at least 5-6 hours. Although for the more adventurous people you can spend an entire day just exploring the gardens. It is highly recommended to wear comfortable shoes as some of the paths are rather steep. A bottle of water and a hat are also handy as the walk back up to the Olive Restaurant is tiring as its all up hill climb on the way back.

I was a guest of the Botanical Gardens and I can say that the visit was truly memorable.

Check the links below more posts about my recent trip to Crete: 

Chania and Olea Villas ~Crete
Greek Feast at Olea Vilas Crete
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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

French Flag ~Tour de France Bostik Challenge




This month the Bostik box is all about Tour de France. The box had a lot of blue, white and red crafting item. Little M my crafting buddy came over to help me create our monthly craft, we were looking through the box but to be honest this month we struggled with what to make. But then Little M and I started talking about France and so we made these cute flags for the theme.

To make the France Flag you will need:


  • 1 sheet white card
  • Blue, white and red funky foam
  • 1 wooden skewer
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Bostik Glue
  • Sellotape

How to make:

1.On the white card draw rectangle 17 cm x 10cm and cut it out.
2. On the white cut out card, draw a 2cm margine on the right hand side and using the scissors score the line so you can make a fold over it.
3. Place the skewer with the pointed side up on to the fold line and using Bostik glue stick the flap over the stick. You may need to secure it with a small piece of sellotape to hold it in place.


4. Cut out three rectangles 5 cm x 10 cm one from each colour red, white and blue funky foam.
5. Turn the flag over so that the stick is now on the left hand side. Spread Bostik glue all over the surface, and stick the funky foam rectangles Blue, white and red in the correct order.
6. Press down to ensure the foam is stuck properly. The flag is ready.




This craft is suitable for young children although, adult supervision may be required for using scissors. If you like this project check the link below for more art and craft projects, that you can do with your children.

Kids Arts and Craft Videos
Kids Arts and Crafts Projects 

Being part of the Bostik 2018 bloggers with Tots100 and Merrily Crafts, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.

If you enjoy visiting citrus spice and travels and have not signed up would like to receive regular EMAIL updates and a monthly newsletter straight into your inbox please sign up by email. You will find the email signup right at the top under my photo in the side bar.

or click the link below.


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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Recipes and posts by email and GDPR


Recipes and posts by email and GDPR

Dear Readers

You may have heard the term GDPR a lot recently. It's basically the new data protection law in Europe and citrus spice and travels are included in this. It protects your data (information about you), how it is collected, what it is used for, the fact that it is kept securely and that you reserve the right to withdraw your data at any time. Your privacy is important to me and at citrusspiceuk.com I will never pass your information on to anyone else.
I do use some third party sites like Feedburner (owned by Google) who send out my posts by email to you, but they also have to protect your data and can't pass it on. They must store it securely and only use it for the purpose you signed up for. Google have updated their policy on 25 May 2018 when the law came into effect.

Posts by email

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Friday, 18 May 2018

A Greek Feast at Olea Villas Crete


On our recent trip to Crete we had the opportunity to stay at the Olea villas, which are set amongst olive groves facing Loutraki Bay, near Chania Crete The villas are fully equipped with a modern kitchen with all mod cons, crockery and cooking utensils if you want to do self catering. However for those who go on holiday and want total relaxation you can even arrange for a private chef to come and cook a Greek feast for you.

We were very lucky to experience this service. On our second night while we relaxed with a glass of wine, our own personal chef Stefanos Bourdakis and his partner came fully prepared to cook some amazing Greek dishes for us



It was really interesting to watch him create some regional Cretan dishes made from scratch. Being a vegetarian I was amazed that almost every dish he made was meat free and I was able to sample them all.


For starters we had butternut squash soup - Kolokythósoupa. I had a hands on cookery lesson from Stefanos. He sauted onions in olive oil, once the onions were translucent he added the butternut squash, carrots, potatoes in white wine. Once the vegetables were cooked he seasoned it with salt and pepper and added Mytzitahra cheese to it and blended it to a smooth puree. A finishing garnish of Greek yoghurt and cream were added before serving.


We really enjoyed our candle light dinner on the terrace overlooking Loutraki Bay.



The soup followed with a plate of Kolokithakia Tiganita or Deep Fried Zucchini (courgettes). Wafer thin slices of zucchini are soaked in water for half an hour after which they are towel dried. The zucchini slices are then tossed in a seasoned flour to coat them before deep frying them until they are crisp and golden brown. These are so delicious with a squeeze of fresh handpicked lemons straight from the lemon groves.


After enjoying these two wonderful starters there was more to come. Stephanos made us these delectable spinach parcels called Kaltsounia. Greek phyllo pastry filled with spinach and Mytzitahra cheese and herb filling and then shallow fried till until they are golden brown. They are finished with a coating of sesame seeds.  These were served with mini pastry tartlets filled with an avocado salsa.




When we thought that we had finished, how wrong we were there was more to come!!! For the main course we had Simbetherio (συμπεθεριό).This is a type is the Cretan vegetable stew cooked with a medley of seasonal vegetables on the stove top. The meaning of 'simbetherio' comes from the relationship of the parents-in-law of the two members of a marriage; the families become related to each other through marriage (they are 'simbetheroi' to each other). 

The simbetherio dish uses the extended family members of various similar species, cooked in the same pot. This dish had potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines and had a garnish of Mytzitahra cheese. Simplicity at its best!!


To accompany the Simbetherio, we had Melintzanes Stolismenes these are thin slices of eggplant shallow fried and rolled with feta. The eggplant rolls are layered in an ovenproof dish and topped with a spicy tomato sauce and Keseri cheese. The dish is baked in the oven until the cheese is golden brown and crisp.


After this incredible Greek gastronomical feast, our stomachs were aching from the fullness and ready to explode, but there is always room for dessert!!!


So for dessert Stephanos made us these delectable little deep fried Greek honey and sesame coated balls call Loukoumades. They were really delicious and the perfect end to this Greek Feast.

I would like to Thank Stefanos and his wife for spoiling us rotten by creating such a wonderful banquet for us. We were totally transformed into a food journey through Greece with all the flavours and dishes.


In the picture Heidi Roberts, Katilena , myself, with Stefanos and his wife.

If you ever visit Crete and would like Stefanos to cook for you you can contact him via email s.bourdakis@hotmail.com

To read more about my trip to Crete do check the posts below:

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Unicorn ~Bostik Challenge



This month the Bostik box is all about creatures. In our box we had some love glittery foam and pink items. Little M my crafting buddy came over to help me create our monthly craft. We chatted about creatures and she told me her friend had a unicorn themed party so we decided to make a unicorn with the items in the box.

We later had some strawberry ice cream with lots of blue berries and mango as she wanted something to make unicorn ice cream. Little M loves to try foods with different colours. unfortunately we did not get time to take a photo of our unicorn ice cream as it was really hot and the ice cream had started to melt.

To make the Unicorn you will need:



  • 1 sheet white glittery funky foam
  • 1 sheet pink funky foam
  • 1 small sheet gold card
  • Stick on gems
  • Pink rafia or thread for mane
  • Black pen
  • Scissors
  • Bostik Glue


How to make:


1.On the white glitter funky foam draw a circle about 10 cm in diameter and cut it out.
2.On the white funky foam draw two ear shapes and cut them out.


3. On the pink funky foam draw two ear shapes slightly smaller than the white ones and cut them.
4.On the pink funky foam draw and cut out two round circles the size on a five pence piece.
5. Using bostik glue stick the smaller pink ear shapes to the larger white ones and stick both ears to the top of the circle.




6. On the gold card draw and cut out one unicorn horn shape.
7. In between the ears stick the uniform horn.
8. Stick the pink circles to make the cheeks.


9. Using a black sharpie draw the unicorns eyes.
10. Underneath the Unicorn horn stick the pink mane and decorate with stick on gems.



This craft is suitable for young children although, adult supervision may be required for using scissors. If you like this project check the link below for more art and craft projects, that you can do with your children.

Kids Arts and Craft Videos
Kids Arts and Crafts Projects 

Being part of the Bostik 2018 bloggers with Tots100 and Merrily Crafts, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Chania and Olea Villas - Crete


My recent trip to Crete took me to Chania the western side of the island, which is the second largest city in Crete. Chania has an international airport with scheduled flights from the UK, the main tourist season is from April to October. Ferries also sail to and from Athens (Pireas) daily - the port for ferries for Chania is at Souda, a few kilometres away.
In Chania, you will find the medieval architecture around the Venetian Harbour- the old port. The two most prominent sights are the Venetian light house and the Turkish quarters. Lining the harbour are the waterfront restaurants and cafes, bars and tourist souvenir shops. As you venture away from the old port you will discover leading off the old town, narrow alley ways leading to cobbled streets, old buildings, museums, churches and crafts shops.


Venetian style town houses stand tall and proud with age old shutters, pastel paint work and balconies. Houses are entwined between cafes, tavernas and shops where you can sit and enjoy a meal or a coffee and listen to the gypsy accordion players busking in the Greek sunshine.


Heading further away into the new town, you will find many larger department stores, designer shops, banks, supermarkets, hotels and many more restaurants. Another must visit in this part of the town is the undercover Municipal Market hall known as "Agora" that houses many stalls selling delicious Greek delicacies, olive oil and olives, fish, meat, herbs, spices, Raki, gifts, house ware and souvenirs. 





Whilst in Crete, our home for seven days were the beautiful Olea Villas in Loutraki-Chania. Set in picturesque surroundings overlooking the hills with olive tress and the Loutraki Bay which is only 170 metres away, the villas are stylishly furnished in a modern decor with all the facilities you will need to make your stay comfortable and luxurious for a family holiday.

Photo supplied by Olea Villas
Contemporary and sleek in look, the two three bedroom villas are adjacent to each other, each  accommodating 6 persons. Both villas are on three split levels, the lower ground floor has two bedrooms one double and one twin room; both rooms have sea facing balconies with a table and chairs. 

                                                                       Photo supplied by Olea Villas

On this level there is also has a media room with a 3D Home theatre, Satellite TV, a Blu-ray player and movie collection and Xbox 360 console and Nintendo DS. This will certainly keep the kids entertained. 


The third bedroom is a double bedroom located on the first floor. All three bedrooms have marble ensuite bathrooms, ceiling fans, air conditioning and tv’s.
On the ground floor there is a fully equipped open plan modern kitchen and a terraced dining area with a barbecue on one side.

                                                                             Photo supplied by Olea Villas

The views from the terrace are breathtaking, making eating al fresco so enjoyable at any time of the day.





On the opposite side of the kitchen is a large sitting room that opens out to an outdoor sitting area, leading to a secluded private infinity-edged swimming pool, landscaped gardens with a children’s play area and hot tub where you can relax and soak up the sunshine in style


.There is full wifi access, a laundry room with a washer and dryer, a full security alarm system and remote controlled entrance gates to the property making it totally safe and secure.  


The Olea villas are easily accessible from the airport, 16km from Souda port and 17km from Chania Centre. Nearby the villas there is Marathi Beach 1.3 km away, where there are a couple of beach front restaurants. The nearest village is 2.9 km away and has a small supermarket and a pharmacy.
It is highly recommended to hire a car to get around the island as the location is a little secluded and set away from the hustle and bustle.Whilst we were in Chania, we used the services of two car companies, Kappa Rentals  and Joyriderentalcar.


The Olea villas also have another larger Villa  sleeping 10 people approximately 10 mins walk away. The Villa Alexandros is set on cliff tops boasting panoramic views of the hills and sea. Built on three levels the property has in total 5 bedrooms, sitting rooms, fully fitted and equipped kitchen, a covered sun terrace and swimming pool.

 Photo supplied by Olea Villas

Two of the bedrooms are on the lower ground floor and three are located on the first floor. The villa is beautifully furnished to the highest standard with all mod cons and come with a maid service.You can also arrange the services of a private chef to come and cook for you. I will feature this service in my next post. I went on the trip with Heidi Roberts from kitchentalkandtravels.com, you can read all about her account here.

The villa owners, Mr George Koletsos and his wife live at the Olea villas. They are very friendly and are always at hand to ensure your stay is comfortable. They even spoils you by bringing piping hot Greek treats straight from their oven for breakfast.
For more information you can visit the Olea Villas  and Villa Alexandros websites  to check out the availability and prices.

I was a guest at Olea Villas, all views  and opinions shared are of my experience. In my next post I shall be sharing things to do in Crete.

NB- All the photos unless marked are taken by citrusspiceuk . The photos supplied by Olea villas are clearly marked.

To read about my Crete adventures you can check the below posts in the series:
A Greek Feast at Olea Villas.




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