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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Weather Forecasting

Merominia - days of the month

This is a method of predicting the weather which goes way way back into antiquity.   The weather of the first 12 days of August is observed and noted in detail.  Each day represents one month of the coming year.

Wind means unsettled weather that month.
White slow moving clouds forecast rain
White clouds racing across the sky mean snow

and so on

Of course meteorolgists poo-poo the idea but farmers and country people who observe the sky and mother nature live by these predictions

However, there is a bit of an argument over which days of August should be watched.  Because this way of forecasting goes so far back into history there are many who argue that the days observed should be from the 14th to the 25th August.  In 1582 the modern world changed from the Julian calendar to the present day Gregorian calendar.  The Julian calendar is 13 days behind hence the days of August being watched should start from the 14th. 

So what do the 'merominia' say for this winter?

  The weather each day has to be watched closely for 24 hours.  For instance if it rains on the 18th August in the evening it means that the last days of December the weather will be unsettled.

Observations are still going on

Note Well - No work must be done while the days are being viewed. 
 A wood chopper's wood will rot if he cuts during August.  Clothes that are washed will fall apart.
Marriages should not take place
Women must not wash their hair at night or leave the house

More days of idleness for the Greeks!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Snakes alive

It's religion again, but this time it's also a
'weird or what'..

For centuries, very year between the 5th and the 15th August,  small snakes appear at the church of the Virgin Mary on the island of Kefalonia.   This year they appeared on August 5th, crawling around the church and its surrounds and remained in the area till August 15th when they suddenly disappeared for another year. Some think that the church is on their migratory route.  Some think it is a miracle of the Virgin Mary (whose big fiesta is on the 15th).

   They are up to one metre long and have a small black cross on their heads.   The snakes are harmless and bus loads of people arrive every day to interact with them.  

They are seen by the islanders as a blessing.  If they do not appear it is a very bad omen.    They failed to appear in 1953 and their was a disastrous earthquake, 7.5 on the richter scale .  They also failed to appear the year that the Germans occupied the island.

Charles and Camilla   -

After a few days resting at the Rothschild estate on Kerkyra (Corfu) Charles and Camilla boarded a luxury yacht to cruise the Aegean.

The yacht will be sailing near Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain of Greece, where Charles will be visiting churches and monasteries.

Mount Athos does not allow females to set foot on the their holy land.  Not even female dogs, chickens, cows or goats.  The presence of women slows the monks spiritual journey, so they say.  

Mount Athos (Agion Oros in greek)  is a peninsular in northern Greece on which there are 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.  There are over 2,000 monks mainly from the balkans and Russia. Only men are allowed to enter and only with a special permit.

Grigoriou Monastery

Camilla must stay on board the luxury yacht and hark to her knitting.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Summer Shots

No, not those sort of shots.  Photos.  Of a Poros summer

The trata, fishing boat, has just laid a long line, illegally, in our little bay and has to sit around for a few hours before bringing it in.

Now and again the Port Police come down for an inspection but rarely when these boats are laying nets or lines inside the bay

Alfa is making the best beer this year according to local 'experts'.  Well brewed and well rested, if that's the right terminology.  A lager with 5% alcohol with a Greek name, brewed in Athens, light gold colour and rich foam.  I have been reading the advert as you can see. 

The most popular Greek iced coffee.  A simple frappe (should have an accent over the 'e' but I can't find it on the keyboard), made with instant nescafe and lots of iced water, sugar and milk if you want it

A pot of basil in the trunk of a tree on the beach, looks like it is planted in a Sol beer cooler

How I pass my time at the beach.  I have been ploughing through that Bruce Chatwin biography for months.  Finally finished it yesterday.  Certainly a weird guy.  An extraordinary life.  The bio goes into some graphic detail of his gay lifestyle, a little more than I really wanted to know

The manager of the beach bar down below us after the Full Moon party.  I'm surprised he let me take his photo.  The party went on till 6.30am and we were down there at 10am for coffee and a swim with the grandkids.  Looks like he must have been doing a massive clean-up in time for re-opening, no time to sleep or shave.

Great party apparently.  Pieces of broken glass we picked up from around our table

Cocoa-cola has a summer competition, 90 free holidays up for grabs. I enter the code from every can of this stuff I drink (which isn't much) but no luck yet. 

Not famous but obviously rich.  He parked his big Mercedes illegally opposite the cafeteria and sat down with his, not one, but two 'girl friends', to enjoy a coffee by the sea.  We watched with interest when the police came along and made him move the car, which he did immediately and very good naturedly.  One law for all this time.

What most sunbathers do between swims.  Phone or ipod

On a blustery day you can literally sunbathe in the sea (because the beach is so narrow)

Or try some windsurfing

15th August on the island of Tinos.  Those saying 'thank you' for the intervention of the Virgin Mary or asking for her blessing literally crawl from the harbor to the church

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για tinos 15th august crawLING TO CHURCH

I have turned on the TV for a marathon 5 hour coverage of the service, parade of the icon and blessings taking place today on the island of Tinos.  It's always interesting to see the pomp and ceremony.

Every so often this coverage is cut to show the wildfires raging north of Athens.  Yesterday the wind was blowing our way and the horizon was white with smoke, the smell of burning in the air.

Monday, 14 August 2017

15th of August - run for cover

15th August.  Don't ever visit Greece around this time unless you're 18, love heatwaves, a constant cacophony (literally means 'bad voice' in greek), multitudes and masses.

Don't get dare get ill or have an argument with your neighbour.  All doctors and lawyers are on holiday till the end of the month.  On the other hand supermarkets, souvenir shops , bars and cafes are on 24 hour duty, raking in, they hope, enough money in two or three weeks to get them through the winter.

But wait, tax inspectors are on duty.  Who would have thought it.  Every shop, business on this island, over this lucrative money making period, has to issue receipts for every little purchase from a bottle of water to a sunbed.  Hip hip hooray. Someone up high has finally figured out that the way for the govt to make money is to make everyone issue receipts for every purchase and thus get taxed on precise income ..... to make sure that no-no is 'evading'. Fat hope of that, but, maybe. Shhhh, mustn't put the evil eye on this new campaign ftoo ftoo ftoo. I spit on all tax inspectors. Get out there and do your job so our pension doesn't get cut again in January.

15th August is the biggest holiday of the year when every Greek that can, goes on his summer holiday.  Back to their roots, to their island, village, family home.  And any rich Greek that can (and there are still a lot of those that can) loads up his big black Jeep, squashes the nanny in along side the kids, and takes off for a week at one of Poros's luxury hotels.  Or orders the captain of his floating palace to fuel up and takes the mistress and a few of her model friends to the island of Myconos for a few nights of wild living.

It's actually a religious holiday.  15th August marks the 'falling asleep' or dormition of the Virgin Mary and any village or island with a monastery or church dedicated to the Virgin Mary  prepares for an inundation of worshippers, worshippers who will dance and sing, eat and drink after lighting candles, kissing icons and attending church services to show their respect and adoration.

The Holy icon from each church is paraded through the streets so the worshippers can receive her blessing.  The Holy icon on the island of Tinos is miraculous and people will crawl to the church and have the icon passed over them hoping for a miracle. When K was in the Navy he was part of the honour guard many times in best dress uniform, marching miles, sword on high, in the scorching summer sun

One year we found a last minute room by the sea and disappeared for two days until the turmoil was over.  We were up bright and early to attend the service at a monastery close-by our hotel and take part in the fiesta afterwards.

 My feet hurt because we had to stand outside the church for over an hour. The courtyard outside was packed with the faithful, lining up to light a candle at big sand filled containers near the church door, or to kiss the icon of the Virgin Mary, also outside in the courtyard so lines of people could pass in an orderly fashion.

 The queue for the one loo was miles long and there were no tables at the café next door so no coffee.  By 11am it was hot and I was crabby.  So we went back and changed into beach clothes and went to the beach.  It was  even hotter.  And the beach was crowded.

Every 15 August since then we've bunkered down, got in provisions and waited out the storm.  This year I want to run again.  Not to the sea but to the mountains.  The latest heatwave is still making us sweat and suffer.  Last night we went for a quiet beer.  No such thing.  We found a place to park the bikes, we even found a table and the beer was cold. 

The waterfront was an endless parade of people, families, teenagers, children, dogs.  There was no view of the sea.  A tight packed line of yachts along the quay blotted that out.  And we didn't see any falling stars either.  Pout pout. 

There is a meteor shower which
takes place every year around this time and is visible in the northern hemisphere.
We didn't observe any shooting stars although there were supposed to be 40 stars falling a minute in the persoid meteor shower.  It continues on tonight so we'll take another peek although I've looked for these for years, since the girls were young and never seen a thing.  

Image result for perseid meteor shower


Probably we'll just stay close to home again this year, swim early before the crowds, pick up a couple of bottles of ouzo  on the 15th and visit our relatives that have name days.   These family celebrations certainly will not be quiet but at least it will be the usual dancing and singing and enjoyment that we know so well. The beer will be cold, the toilets clean and I can go home whenever I've had enough.

Xronia Polla

Friday, 11 August 2017

Of tavernas and souvlaki shops and ouzeries

Taverna - a simple eating place serving homemade food with local olive oil, wine, greens from the fields nearby and traditional dishes.  You'll find these full of local Greeks enjoying long nights of wine, fine basic fresh food and conversation.  This is the sort of eatery where retsina used to be sold, the traditional wine of Greece flavoured with pine resin. They'll probably have paper tablecloths and small heavy wine glasses.

Our favourite taverna by the sea.  Good Greek cooking.  The paper table cloth, held down at the corners by metal clips 

Typical Menu ..

Greek salad
Stewed dried beans with fresh tomatoes (gigantes)
grilled sardines
feta served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of oregano
Meat stewed with tomatoes and cinnamon served with spaghetti, orzo or local pasta
boiled mutton
split peas puree
salt cod
heavy sourdough bread

Estiatorio (restaurant) -  similar to the taverna but usually only open during the day.  Often they'll have big pots of food cooked fresh in the morning.  If you're lucky you'll be able to go in and choose from the pot, presuming you can tell what you're looking at!

Psistaria - a grill house where  you'll probably find all kinds of meat and sausages being BBQed over a charcoal fire.  All of it is served with greek cheeses, fried potatoes, tzatziki, greek salad or in the winter lettuce or cabbage salad

Ouzeri -  shop which sells ouzo by the glass or the small bottle with small plates of snacks known as meze.  The traditional snacks for ouzo are slices of  grilled octopus on a toothpick with a dash of lemon juice and slices of cucmber.

Souvlatzidiko -  souvlaki shop.  Souvlaki can either be a pita bread wrapped around pork gyro with lashings of tzatziki, raw onions and tomato or pieces of meat (pork or chicken) on a skewer and grilled.

Tsipouradiko - here you buy a raki (also called tsipouro or tsikoudia) by the small 1/4 litre bottle or by the glass accompanied by small plates of mezes which are traditional to eat with this drink.  Small meatballs, feta cheese or olives

Upmarket eating places call themselves a Bistro or Ristorante, serve salads with salmon and pomegranite seeds, call the dressing vinagrette and using long stem wine glasses.  


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Greece in the news

Refugees cleared  to travel to Ireland -

440 refugees now have their papers to move on from no-mans-land in Greece to a new life in Ireland.

Ireland has agreed to take 4000 migrants under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, half by the end of this year.  The relocation programme is also taking migrants from Lebanon and Italy.

Germany on the other hand is starting to send refugees they don't like back to Greece!

Ancient Theatre of Mieza -

This small theatre will re-open on the night of the August full moon with a performance of the greek tragedy, 'Iphigenia'*, written in 406 BC by ancient greek playwright Evripides.
The theatre has been restored in recent years and holds about 2000 spectators.  It is situated in Northern Greece in greek Macedonia.

Before and after

The ancient town of Mieza is thought to be where Aristotle taught Alexander the Great.

* Iphigenia was the daughter of King Agamemnon who was off to fight in the Trojan war.  Agamemnon offended the Goddess Artemis who in a hissy fit prevented the winds from blowing so he couldn't sail to Troy.  To appease her he was told to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia.  So he did.  Nice people these ancient Greeks.

Our own little Theatre -

The little theatre of Epidavros was discovered in the 70's under a grove of olive trees.  The owner must have been thrilled about that.   I wonder if he got compensation for the loss of his olive trees and a lifetime of olive oil for his family.  Situated near the Port of Old Epidavros, it was used for theatre but also for religious and political events.  

Holds 2,000 spectators.  Dedicated to the god Dionysos (wine, women and song)

Epidavros is less than an hour from us and famous for the huge theatre which is on every tourists must-see list.

Holds 14,000 spectators

The small theatre's summer programme starts off with a performance of  'Cyclops', once again by dramatist Evripides.  This tragedy/greek drama is described as 
'an all female production examining the land of the cyclops (giants) , a masculine, raw, violent world of mutual killing and man-eating'
Well, I sure won't be going out of my way to see that!

Last -                                                                                         

Did you know that August 2017 has 5 Saturdays and Sundays?  This happens once every 823 years

Monday, 7 August 2017

August full moon 2017

The August moon will be full in Greece on the 7th at 21.10pm, or 22.12, depending on which site you're reading.

  It will appear like the glow from a forest fire at about 8.30, slowly rising behind our hill.   The moon by 9 will illuminate the remains of the ancient temple. By midnight  its luminescence will appear as a  radiant pathway over the sea. 
The Greek Ministry of Culture has arranged that 115 Archeological sites and monuments will be open free of charge till midnight on the night of the august full moon and for a few nights before and after.  The Acropolis will close however at 8pm.  A few years ago those in charge decided the slippery marble steps were too dangerous to be climbed in the moonlight.

The Parthenon atop the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Many of the sites will be bathed in artificial light as well as being lit up by the silvery moonlight.  All sorts of magical musical and theatrical events will take place around the country.

At ancient Olympia, home of the Olympic games , you'll hear a concert by the Army General Staff Philharmonic (if you're in the area).  I would  love to hear tenor Mario Frangoulis at the ancient Minoan Palace of Malia, but that's down in Crete.

Nothing seems to be planned for Poseidon's Temple on Poros this full moon.  The piano recitals that usually take place there are scheduled for later in the month.  But there will be a full moon party on Neorion beach and popular 70's greek singer Paschalis will be entertaining the crowds.

This 70's singer must be at least 70 himself  by now

By the light of the moon
By the light of the silvery moon
I wanna spoon, to my honey I'll croon love's tune