Thursday, 13 September 2012

Summer 2012

Summer is a time for less stress.  We don't watch the news!  Yes, we do have a television set out on my (civilised) balcony (as opposed to K's workshop and 'washing machine graveyard' out the back).  But we watch less.  More  time in the evening for talking and eating and arguing and 'socialising'.  And this was an Olympic year.  What a terrible opening ceremony!  We  'booked ' a table to watch it  down in our favourite cafe.  Our friend Menios who owns the cafe put a bottle of whisky and two glasses on the table.  A sign of reservation.  Forunately we didn't have to actually buy (or drink) the whisky.  The greeks were bewildered by the ceremony and frankly so was I. National Health Service?  How strange, not to mention downright boring.  Enjoyed watching all the teams march in though.

We watched a lot of the events .  It being on our time zone helped a lot.  We watched while NZ won gold over and over again!  And we did notice the Austrlian team did quite well too.

The economic situation here is still getting worse.  Taxes have multiplied and K's pension goes down every month.  We learn to do without and hope for no emergencies.  At the moment we are all doing well 'thank you'.  Elli has had her hours cut by half and wages cut as well.  But she is still employed and many are not.  Kyriako's summer season was reasonable.  People still use the little taxi boats to go to and fro from Poros to Galatas.  The best time to work seeems to be around 11pm and again around 2 or 3 in the morning - ferrying the young to the bars on Poros.  Yiannis' yachts were well booked .  Foreigners still like to sail the greek islands.  K is still getting his pension, though it is cut every month by 1 or 5 % or 20 or he suddenly has to pay extra tax on money he got 6 years ago. There are hidden taxes on all our  bills.   We never know from one month to the next what extra we will have to pay.  Last year we got a tax refund of 300 euros, this year we got a bill for 3,000 euros.  It used to be we got taxed on everything over 12,000 euros - this has been lowered to 5,000 euros. And we are still getting the threat of bancrupcy thrown at at us.  Who wants to watch the news?

The last two weekends K has been helping our neighbour pick his grapes.  These are pressed by feet and machine - apparently (clean) gumbots make the job a lot easier.  They have more tread and are heavier.  They used to get a tonne of juice to make wine which they sold during the year.  Last year the grapes got some sort of grapish disease and the yield was only half a tonne.  They expected more this year but the amount of juice was about the same.  K got a hundred kilos of juice as his reward so (thank the Lord) can make his own wine again this year.  It is too expensive to buy it any more.  Juice is sold at about 1 euro a litre.  No more will he have 500 kilos of different wines in his barrels in the shed.  We used to have an outing to the winery at Nemea at this time of the year to pick up the juice - and a sample of the finished product with bbq-ed pork chops at a small taverna on the way back.  Nemea is named after the Neamean Lion which Hercules slaughtered nearby as one of his Herculean tasks. 

Nemea is about 2 hours from Poros and is nice days outing - with the wine and pork chops.  Last year we went to see the ruins there as well.  They are well kept and more impressive than other more touristy sites.  There is a stadium which is used for the 'Nemean Games' every four years and part of a temple with two columns standing.

ps don't think 'winery' as impressive estate such as they are in the anitpodes.  This is a small family affair with a few tons of wine in a small shed.  Which you can still taste - as long as you are buying.  There are big estates in this region and there are wine tours but the only ones I have seen available are expensive and run from athens for wealthy americans...etc

Our neighbour held a  bbq after the first weekend of grapepicking and K was the buyer and bbq-er.  Lots of pork to keep him happy.  A real greek celebration.  Too much food, free flowing wine and loud music till the wee hours.  We staggered home, downhill, at 2.30am with a huge pot of left-over meat.  As I mentioned before 'K did the buying' and the neighbor was paying.  As K reminded me when I commented on the left-overs  'you never know who might be passing by'!

K still has a few bottles of his good 'red'.  We are keeping it for the next visitors from down-under or a perhaps there will be a few bottles wrapped tightly in our suitcases if we ever visit again.

Last years 100 kilos of red did not get drunk.  There were 50 litres still left in the barrel.  We stopped drinking it as the weather got hotter.  Too heavy for summer.  And we were away most of last winter.  K was going to chuck it because it was past its best but I have 'bottled' about 10 litres.  My friend Jan I will drink it I'm sure during these cold winter months to come. After the first glass the rest is 'finest vintage'.   No it is not at its best but it isn't yet vinegar.  Another 20 kilos will be made into vinegar. 

At the august full moon most of the archealogical sites are open at night so you can sit in amongst ancient ruins and gaze in wonder under the  moon beams.  This year at full moon there was a piano recital at Poseidon's temple just above us here on Poros.  This is its third year.  We went the first year and discovered that you can definitely have too much of piano music.  The first half hour was quite enjoyable.  We spent the next half hour wondering how we could get out - from the middle of a row - without it being too obvious!  By then a lot more people were thinking the same thing and there was a general exodus.  This year  we sat on our balcony and now and again heard a high pitched tinkle tinkle as the wind changed in our direction.  It was more than enough.

George and Nels making scrambled eggs after a sleep-over

cleaning the (small) barrels - K , Jamie and Natali

On Sunday an albanian is coming to dig the garden for the winter vegetables.  K fixed his washing machine so this is the payment.  The ground is hard as concrete after the hottest summer in 80 years.  One heat wave after another.  I notice Kuwait seems to have about the highest temps around here - still at 45o most days.  Well, we almost reached 45 too - 42 or 43 was not unusual for areas around us.

We had planted tomatoes, zucchinis, aubergines, corn and cucumbers.  Instead of 20 kilos of tomatoes we got about 2 kilos of tiny tomatoes.  Maybe they were cherry tomatoes.  Also a few stunted green peppers, 3 mangy aubergines and a couple of cucumbers.  I gave up watering my part of the garden in July.  K persevered and put up camaflage netting to keep off some of the sun.  It looks as though we may get a few aubergines now that the weather is slightly cooler.  The albanian is going to turn over half of the area and K has been given seed potatoes to plant.  In the meantime all the water from the washing machine is going out over the garden to maybe soften the soil a little and alter the Ph - thank you Paul.

We could empty the sewage tank over the garden as well.  It is only the liquid and the chinese use 'night soil' so why not us?  

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