The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Overseas -

The Cre­tan home of John and Joanne Chidgey, from Wat­ford, is revered not just by their guests, but the whole vil­lage of Kounali. The old olive press — which they have ren­o­vated into a fourbed­room, hol­i­day home — has al­ways been a com­mu­nal site for the vil­lagers, whose an­ces­tors built it 200 years ago by drag­ging stones up the moun­tain.

“We keep find­ing out new sto­ries about it from lo­cals who just pass by,“ says John, a 49-year-old man­age­ment con­sul­tant. “The shep­herd stops by ev­ery few days for a glass of raki.” The warm, laid-back na­ture of the peo­ple is some­thing the Chidgeys love about Crete, where they fell in love 30 years ago, hon­ey­mooned and now bring their three teenage girls for hol­i­days.

They have in­vest­ment prop­er­ties in Spain, but a vil­lage house in Crete was al­ways their dream and they bought the barn-like olive press for €55,000 (£36,666) five years ago. Af­ter an 18-month pur­chase process, the same time spent ren­o­vat­ing it and a £80,000£100,000 builders’ bill, the house is now val­ued at about €600,000 (£317,400).

“We built a pool over the old stone wa­ter-tank and a guest suite be­neath it,” says John. “And we put a mez­za­nine floor above the main liv­ing area for an­other bed­room. But the set­ting is the real sell­ing point. Sur­rounded by olive-grove cov­ered hills with only the sound of cow­bells to in­ter­rupt the still­ness, it‘s the sort of place where you lose all sense of time.”

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