local-kiwi-alien

Sunday, 10 November 2019

November

Some countries are/were celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas.  Here in Orthodox Greece we are preparing for 2 months of name days, celebrations, church fiestas, and in our family a slew of birthdays.  But it's not all killing the fatted pig and testing this years vintage.   There are another 40 days of fasting before December 25th and that begins about now.

November 8th is the feast day of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel and the name day celebration of those named after them, mainly Mihalis, Matina, Angeliki and Stamatis.  Every year we go to the home of K's cousin Mihali and his wife Angeliki.  Both of them have the same name day and there is always roast pork, spinach pie, lettuce salad with pomegranite and a syrupy dessert. 

The first of winter's spinach and lettuce is ready for eating and pomegranites are at their best, still on the trees, red and ripe.

This time last year it was cold and drizzling.  Not a night you wanted to venture out.  
A few years ago, at the same time in November my brother and his wife visited from Perth, Australia.  What we remember most about the visit was the bitter cold.  We visited some of the ancient ruins wrapped up in thick jackets.

Anyway.....
this year the evening was warm and dry.  They have a very cold house, icy marble tiles everywhere and muted colours.  Lots of grey and black, not colours to warm the eye or the soul.  Last year I froze in a light shirt.  I was relying on their central heating which they didn't turn on till half an hour after we were seated at the table.  This year I came prepared and wore a jacket.  Not necessary.
We sat and ate and chatted in a very agreeable atmosphere.


It's raining today but we are still in short sleeves.  I have put a couple of  rugs down in the bedroom and winter clothes are hanging in the closet but in the main we are enjoying this late autumn warmth.

My grandchildren are still thinking of swimming.  Someone else, my age, told me they were still swimming  in the sea and the water was em-bracing.    It won't be em-bracing me! 

10 November
The 37th year of the Authentic Athens Marathon
As usual won by a Kenyan with Rwanda coming in 2nd and for the first time in many mnay years a Greek came in at third place.




The marathon is a 42 kilometre run following the route of the original marathon runner in 490BC  from the the village of Marathon to the centre of Athens.  The authentic marathon runner in ancient times raced back to the Athenians to tell them that their army had defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.



11th November
Armistice Day



Not really celebrated around here.  I crocheted some poppies back in April before the NZ and Australian remembrance day.  Not sure what to do with them.  I suppose they could be used as Xmas decorations

17th November
Remembering the uprising of students of Athens University in 1973 which led to the downfall of the military junta.  


Usually there  is rioting  around the Parliament buildings, a ripping up of marble tiles to throw at the police, a hail of molotov cocktails and in return a cloud of tear gas.

Schools hold commemorative services and school children have a day off.

21st November
A feast day celebrating the entrance of the Virgin Mary, as a child, into the temple at Jerusalem.
Greek Armed Forces Day.  Time for ex Navy officers to attend the church service and enjoy the company of fellow officers at a local taverna
Name day of  unmarried girls named Maria

25 and 26 November
Saints Katherine and Saint Stylianos (Stelios and Stella)

30 November Saint Andreas

Those are just the more important of the holidays.  There are more!


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Winter-ry


The greening has begun.


The nasturtiums are slowly taking over this corner. It's usually choked by clover. Time will tell which 'plant' wins


Our first tonne of olive wood has been delivered. It's still far too warm to even think about fires thank goodness but we'll be ready when the north winds blows down from the russian steppes



The shade cloth finally came down


Our white bougainvilia is in full bloom. It usually starts at the end of September when the dark magenta bougainvillia is faded and dry.
It is very  late blossoming this  year. 
The roses had withered and dried, lost all their leaves from some disease but are now leafy green with loads of buds.

The olive harvest has just begun, a few weeks later than usual.
The first olive pressings are only giving a litre of oil for every 8 kilos of olives. That is a poor result. After the next rain the olives will be plump and lush. 
These early unripe olives are full of antioxidants but produce much less oil.  
A good oil production around here is 5-6 kilos of olives to the litre of oil.


Saturday, 2 November 2019

Photos





Watching the sun go down over the harbour




Filling up the shelves.  Visitors brought unavailable 'essentials'
Bisto, vanilla essence and the makings of the traditional-to-kiwis dip (reduced cream and onion soup) which only kiwis will understand


What others considered essential
Serbian raki
One made from plum and the other apricots
More drinkable than our strong grappa/raki, called tsikoudia or tsipouro here



A photo of their hi-jinks in Athens.  
Under the Acropolis in the setting sun





Wednesday, 30 October 2019

It's New to Me

When visitors come to town they frequent places, tavernas,beaches
that for one reason or another are not on our list of  where to stay or eat, probably because none of our friends go there or the family that runs the place isn't our family

They do things differently, experience the island in their way, not ours.  It's always interesting to visit with them and try, usually not successfully, to answer their questions.

Why does the island have so many eucalyptus trees.  Those gum trees are native to Australia, not Greece.
Well. Wolf, first of all the name is from the Greek 'kalytpo' meaning 'to cover', secondly 'I don't know why the hell they're here'!  Which is what I said at the time.  Even google didn't help.  
Obviously they love the environment.  Poros has dozens along the sides of the roads and when they're trimmed every few years there's a fight for the wood.  They are terrific for burning on a wood stove.

Another question I remember (not from this lot) was 'do you still have to put used toilet paper into a bin and not down the loo?'
Yes.  Our plumbing gets clogged up by toilet paper and it's a 'hands-on' job to clear the damn drains.  Don't do it.  Though in the big modern hotels they must have sorted their plumbing by now.



The entrance to 'Anasa' beach.  A shallow sandy beach perfect for Mums who can let their kids dig in the sand, wade through the sea.  There are no waves and no sharks and the canteen has iced coffee, beer and even a greek salad




You can order an omelette for breakfast at our favourite 'Green chairs' cafe.  Not something we would ever order.  If we want something to eat with our coffee we bring our own cheese pies or pop across to the big supermarket (which looks like a mini market to out-of-towners) and buy a sesame bread ring.  The only thing we would ever eat there would be a plate of nibbles (meze) to go with an ouzo or raki


Roof terrace at sundown.  Haven't done that for months.  Didn't go up there all summer.  Too much hassle hauling all the food and drink up the spiral staircase and then hauling it all down again at the end.  Takes a visit from family to get poor Elli and Kyriakos up there finding cushions, seeing if the fridge works (can't have warm beer and the deadly sangria definitely needs ice), sweeping up a years detritus.  It was more than worth it, magical for first timers, watching the sunset and all the activity in the harbour and the old town below
  


Niki's village
It has been many many years since I went in here.
Just luvly.  It was full of German tourists having their breakfast around the pool and to our amusement there was a group of germans learning greek from a woman who spoke to them in english.  They were doing very well
Our own Niki stayed here.  It's not far from beaches and town, there is a bike hire shop virtually next door and in the summer there are 3 tavernas just a hop and a skip away.  The sea is right there in front of the hotel, not for swimming but idyllic to sit on your balcony and watch the fishing boats putt-putting out in the early morning and evening and just watch the activity (of the germans) below




Saga Hotel
I haven't been in here for donkeys years either.  It's in  back street, very close to the beaches, town and tavernas.  The family that run it are extremely friendly, always on hand.  Breakfast around the pool under the bougainvillia, whatever you need provided with a smile

Both these hotels have not been on our list of places to recommend to visitors but they'll be top of the list now. 


This is a view of our main back-drag in the centre of town.
I haven't been down here for a while obviously because all sorts of shops seem to have opened and there is a laundry, craft shop, clothes shops, electrical shop, scrummy bakery and the fish and meat market are on one side.  Oh, there's a great taverna with local food as well.
Used to be only tourist shops and then over the economic crisis years most shops closed up.  It's full of life now.  A sign of more prosperity, at long last!  There is even a municipal lending library for tourists!  Well done Poros


So, that's just a short photo trip
Till next time

Monday, 28 October 2019

Flying The Flags .....etc

26th October
Feast Day of St Dimitris
Patron Saint of the northern city of Thessaloniki, capital of the district of Macedonia, Greek Macedonia

Name day of Dimitris, Dimitra and Danae
We have quite a few members of the family who celebrate name days on the 26th.  Younger family members.  They no longer continue the old tradition of open house and revelling long into the night.  The tradition was changing anyway but the economic crisis hit these festivities on the head.  Nowaday our kids have a few drinks with close friends.

In days gone by we had half of the island traipsing through the house on K's name day and the party went on till the last guest staggered home or the police arrived.  

We still have a small gathering for family and close friends on K's name day and kill the fatted goat but only because he is a very traditonal person and follows the old greek customs to the letter

Just to make a small diversion
While I was looking at Thesaurus.com to avoid using the word 'tradition' for the umpteenth time I came across the 'word of the day
-       horripilation      -  
 WTF   I learnt a new word today
it means
a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold or fear
Very descriptive

And now on to the flags

28th October
Greek National Day
On this day in 1940  Greek Prime Minister gave a resounding NO to Mussolini's demand that Greece allow the Italian army to occupy the country.  The Italians immediately  invaded over the Albanian border but were driven back by a fierce resistance 

Today there will be parades, speeches, wreath laying all over the country and anywhere in the world where Greeks have settled.  
Heroic films are shown on most tv channels, school children on Friday had a half day to recite poems, sing songs commemorating the heroes and we put up our flag outside the house



Flying the flag at our house



The cenotaph is ready, decked out with  blue and white greek flags


You'll see the flag everywhere there is a patriotic greek


At the table next to us in the cafe
This is the naval flag of greece, a white cross on a blue background










Friday, 25 October 2019

Beginning At The End

It's like the last supper, though usually closer to breakfast-time than supper-time.

There's always just enough time for one last souvlaki and an alpha before the Flying Dolphin arrives to take away our visitors our out-of-towners/guests/members of our extended family.

We said goodbye to my brother and sis in law a month ago and next it was time to farewell our neices and nephew.

Their last request was for souvlaki.  Souvlaki made from pork, not lamb!  These are not turkish kebabs we emphasised for our new nephew with Serbian roots.  Authentic Greek souvlaki is pork.

I learned a lot about the Balkans thanks to Wolf  and especially about Serbia.  Serbia like Greece is Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox in this case of course, and Serbia like Greece suffered under hundreds of years of Ottoman oppression.  

So we eat pork souvlaki or maybe chicken souvlaki but never lamb kebabs.


Greek Uncle, kiwi neice, souvlaki in hand



If you don't want a big stuffed pita bread you can have your souvlaki on a plate.  Pita bread cut into quarters, a pile of chips, tzatziki, raw onions, tomatoes and lashings of sliced pork gyro.


You just get stuck in and don't worry about dribbling tzatziki or greasy gyro


The best


The spag bol's not too bad either


Greek salad anyone?  Well, they ordered it but there wasn't too much room left after beer and stuffed pita bread!




Greek Alpha beer, the breakfast beer 
Real men drink Heineken



Our first visitors of the year tucking into souvlaki and alpha before their Flying Dolphin appointment.  They managed quite well even though they were probably still digesting the Easter lamb they had tucked into not long ago

When my brother Paul left the island we had to take him overland because of bad weather and were going to stop at the 'best little souvlaki shop' on the Peloponese, a tiny little 'hole in the wall' just before the Corinth Canal.  It's about half way between Poros and the airport, perfect stop for a last meal but it was closed damn it.

This little shop, hidden behind a mass of greenery on the side of the main road just before the motorway, or just as you come off it, going the other way, does a roaring trade.  Truckies, taxi drivers, local families, a priest or two, even a few tourist RVs, we've seen them all stop for a quick fill up.  The shop has 5 or 6 tables outside or you take a bag of  pita and gyro with you 'to go'.

We stop there now and again, on our way back from appointments in the city of Corinth.  It's the best souvlaki I've ever tasted and it's cheap.  A couple of  huge, filling pita stuffed with Pork gyro and tzatziki, onions, tomatoes and chips and 2 beers cost less than 10 euros!

So we said goodbye again, but this is not the last you'll be hearing of them. More posts to come
















Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Olives

We saw the first olives of this season being picked on our way out of town last week.  The olives on the island though are not quite ready.  Everyone, ie our neighbours, are waiting till the end of the month or even mid November so the crop has a chance to plump up a bit, hopefully producing more oil.  We had some very heavy rain last month which will improve the quality of the oil and the amount each olive produces



 The first olives for eating were dropped  on our table in the cafe 2 weeks ago, just a handful.  K was very pleased

These are the first black olives, and came from a plot of olives which are watered all year long and are early producers.  They are given a bash with a hammer or the back of the hand, mixed with  coarse salt and are eaten the next day.  They're a delicacy, first of the season.  

Olives usually need to be soaked in water for days on end to get rid of the bitterness but these early olives are edible immediately.  Even I tried them and liked them.

They don't last long, a week at the most


This years crop has a worm problem and many of the olives have already fallen.  The worm burrows inside and eats just below the stalk so the olive falls from the tree.  In some areas the problem has almost ruined the harvest.  Here many olives have fallen but the trees still have plenty of fruit to be picked

Next door Vaso and her daughter are mending the nets which will be spread out under the trees.  They were already cleaned at the end of last season but rocks and thistles tear holes in the material.  These have to be patched so the olives don't fall through. 

It's one helluva difficult task for these woman. Vaso is in her eighties and her daughter is a retired school teacher.  They sit there on the ground in the yard for a week with these huge nets spread around them sewing up the holes.   

The neighbourhood is preparing.  Soon there will be nets everywhere, even across our roads as branches are raked for their olives.  I hope the weather stays dry and warm for a few more weeks.  It's a hard dirty job and icy winds and wet trees make it worse.  

That golden oil at the end of it is always worth the trouble.  Family members travel back to their villages to collect olives from their land, lawyers, doctors and office workers, they all want that extra virgin olive oil which to them is the best in the world.