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Ancient ruins are literally everywhere in Greece. Every where you walk you are treading on the ruins of an  older civilization, probably rom...

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Saints Constandine and Helen .......21 may

Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni, mother and son.  They have a joint fiesta on 21st May and half of Greece celebrates with them.


and a few other variations

We have quite a few of them in our large Greek family.  Once we used to celebrate all together, with my mother-in-law (Eleni) and sister-in-law (Dina), daughter, grandaughter, and other various inlaws.

Now the young ones have grown up and some of the older ones have departed.  Add an economic crisis and the all day fiesta has shrunk to a small party for close friends and neighbours.

My sister-in-law arranged the Holy loaf to be taken to the church and made the list of relatives whose names are read out in church (mine included) to be blessed, hopefully, with good health.

Our local church is dedicated to these two saints and their icon is paraded through the back streets, followed by Priests, chanters, local officials and many of those whose name day is being celebrated.

After the service the  celebrants share homemade koulourakia (cookies), sweet bread and cakes to commemorate their name day and go home to cook and prepare for a celebration supper.

K cooked lamb and potatoes in a clay pot, sealed with dough and simmered for 5 hours.


There was nothing of the wild, rowdy celebrating of old when our house became a stopping off place for half the island.  Friends and friends of friends used to turn up for an hour or many hours to drink and eat and then wobble off to their next friend or relative. 

This time a cousin dropped in as did our immediate family after their athletic triumphs and finally a friend and neighbour.

We sat on the balcony, outside but under cover and the day turned from sunshine to a very welcome rain. We all ate a little drank a little and talked a lot.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Porosea.... 21 May

Porosea 2017

Three days of athletics for all ages on the welcoming, green  island of Poros.  If you like swimming, running or cycling then this was the place to be over the weekend of 21st May.

Three of our grandchildren took part, running and cycling and the other two were volunteeers, handing out bottles of water and directing athletes.

9am, an empty waterfront except for a few athletes warming up

         Three enthusiastic young 10k runners raring to go.  Our own Nels on the right.

Anna, friend, one of their mothers, an athletic local-alien, with a big smile, timer and music strapped on to her arm.  Anna ran the 10k race as well and came in first in her age group.  Way to go!

Waiting for the starter's 'gun', grandaughter Nelie with a bottle of water in one hand and her phone in the other so she can listen to music.  We obviously have to buy her one of those arm thingies and a belt to hang her water bottle.

Holding on to a bottle of water and a phone didn't slow her down though.  There she is holding up the cup, first of the women to cross the line in the 10k race.  

And our very own Pascal, another local-alien and our friendly waitress from the 'green chairs' cafe.  Pascal ran a half marathon, 22ks, and she was the first woman over the line.  Go Pascal go!!!  The 22ks took her way up into the hills where we live, across the back of the island to the Monastery and back down into the harbour, all in 2 hours and 7 minutes

Two more champions, grandaughter on the right, did the 400 metre dash smiling all the way

It was all very well organised.  Each athlete had an identification badge with their number, the event and their name which they attached to the back of their shirts.  

Grandson Jamie, in a typical tough boy pose.  He and his friend rode in the 10k cycle race.

Maria and Matina, accountants, not athletes, just having fun.  They did very well coming in 13 and 14th and are already training for next years event!

This ten year old, Antonis, is a young athlete who just went on and on like those duracell batteries.  He swam 2ks in the sea,   cycled 22ks and ran 10ks.   This little guy doesn't give up.


Now this young nine year old is not just a champion, she's a phenomenon!  Don't know what her name is, just what she achieved.  She ran 5ks and came in second, nine years old!

Father and son

Unfortunately I only got to see the running.  I came down too late to watch the cyclists.  All roads were closed on our side of the island, cars, tankers and motorbikes, all backed up and not able to move till it was all over.  I turned around and went back up the mountain, just making it home before they closed our mountain road as well.  This is one time I wouldn't have argued.  It was a terrific event for the island, for the locals who took part and all the visitors who came to participate in these games.  Besides the athletic events there was a treasure hunt, 'survivor' type games, a free macaroni night and lots of other good healthy fun for everyone

ks - kilometres

Monday, 22 May 2017

Greek family compound

Where I used to live.

There are actually two blue metal doors here, both leading into the family compound in the photo below and the four family homes.  I used to hear them clang behind me when I entered and it felt like sound of a prison cell closing behind me.

The small courtyard which separates the two two-storey dwellings. There are steps on the right, out of the photo, which lead up to our house, now belonging to my daughter who loves the intimate family atmosphere.  In this courtyard we all gathered, and still do on many occasions to celebrate returns, departures, griefs and triumphs.

The orginal marble sink where we cleaned, cut and prepared meals and washed piles of fatty dishes with cold water and non sudsing homemade olive oil soap.  My sister in law has a dish washer now.

The blue and lilac wood over the white wall covers the living area.  When we moved in it was simply an open balcony with the toilet in one corner.  Covering it over gave us somewhere to gather, sit, eat and watch TV, not to mention bring the bathroom inside the house.

On street parking

We are half way up the hill.  These steps go on and on up to the top of the island where the old mill is located.  This is a winter photo where the steps are a little green and mossy.  Before Easter the steps are whitewashed and look bright and clean.

This beautiful house opposite us used to be a one floor, one room house with thick stone walls and a stable on the ground floor.  There was a donkey housed there for many years and bats in the eaves.

The road leading down to the Naval School

This narrow road and this particular sharp, blind corner is two-way causing horrible traffic jams in peak summer months and at Easter.  Locals know where to pull over and where two cars can pass.  City slickers or convoys of cars can cause great confusion and blind backing.  I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Our house and Surrounds

We live up in the hills with the remains of the temple to Poseidon on the hills opposite and the sea down below if only we could see it.

Looking down to Vagionia Bay.  All this area in ancient times was covered in buildings straggling down to the sheltered harbour from the Temple complex on the top of the hill dedicated to the God of the Sea, Poseidon.  On the road leading down to Vagionia Bay the archealogical society will allow you to build on the left hand side of the road but on the right hand side you cannot (supposedly) even dig a hole.  One of those 'weird or what' situations you often find here.  Greece is covered in ruins.  Every step you take is over some hidden ancient rock.  Land here has been farmed by many generations of  modern Greeks.  Now when young people need this family land to build a small house they cannot because of some incomprehensible law.

This is our house, with three different roof levels, all built at different times.  It looks quite isolated here but there are four houses relatively close by, though only one is permanently occupied.

What looks like a piece of an ancient Greek column in our green winter garden.  It is in fact a piece of plaster garden decoration which I retrieved from the rubbish.  Wish there had been more.

A typical farmer's house further down the road.  This is used by the family when picking olives and working on the land, or having a big family get together.  The bougainvillia has run wild and is full of colour in the summertime.

The view from Vaso's front yard.  She is slighlty higher than us and gets a panoramic view of Vagionia Bay, the lights of Piraeus and the coast of Athens at night.

Two houses on the hill above us.  These were half built over 20 years ago and have never been lived in.   They were built by a then councillor and bigwig who went ahead without planning permission.  Someone 'ratted' on him and he's been in court ever since and is not allowed to even step foot in the houses.

He must have a wonderful view up there of the mainland opposite and the village of Methana under the volcano plus at night the lights of Athens, the port of Piraeus and the island of Aegina would be incredible, if he ever got to live up there.

This gives you a better idea of where exactly those houses are, just visible on the hill to the rear of the photo.

A hedge of rosemary just down the road from us.

Where we used to live down in the old town above the harbour.  Our old house (family compound where our daughter now lives) is one of the white houses with blue shutters half way up the hill.  Houses built right next to each other and often attached with the houses on the higher level watching what's going on down on the lower levels.  No privacy here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Classic Greek cheese pie (tiropita)

Cheese Pie - Tiropita

Sold at bakeries and coffee shops, eaten piping hot out of a small paper bag. Not suitable for eating in cars as the pastry flakes go everywhere. 

This is a recipe for the simple Greek cheese pie made with 'crazy pastry'.    The pastry is super easy, flexible and easy to roll. It is perfect for any sort of pie, crunchy and delicious.

200 grams of yoghurt (sheep, goat, cow)
150 grams softened butter . I actually melt mine
300 grams of self-raising flour.  Add the flour slowly.  It may need a little more or a little less.

Put them all together in a bowl, mix well and then knead till it is a nice soft but not sticky dough.  Leave to rest for about half an hour.  It is easier to roll out if left to rest.

Keeps for  a week in the fridge.  I didn't add any salt because the feta cheese is quite salty.  If you're using it for some other filling (sweet or sour) you may want to add half a teaspoon of salt.

While the pastry is resting make the filling.

- 2 eggs
- 200 grams feta cheese.  I grated mine because it was hard but just crumbling it into the bowl will be fine
- 200 grams of grated gouda
- 100 grams (or so) of any other cheese you have, grated
- 1/2 cup of milk
In fact just use a combination of any cheese you have in the fridge
- a handful of chopped mint or a little dried mint
- a little pepper

Mix well with a spoon

Take 2/3 of the pastry and pull it out with your hands as much as you can.  Then roll out to the size of your baking dish so it covers the bottom and the sides.

Oil your baking dish.  The baking dish should be quite large so the cheese mixture is not too thick.  Lay on the pastry and fill with the cheese mixture.  Fold over the extra on the sides.

Roll out the other 1/3 of the pastry and place it over the top as a lid.  Brush with a little milk and sprinkle some sesame seeds if you want. 

Cook about 25 minutes at 180o till golden brown. Put it near the bottom of the oven so it gets well cooked underneath as well.

Cheese pie is usually eaten as a snack in the morning.  In Crete they serve it with honey.  It definitely needs to be eaten hot and leftovers heated up.

Facts about Greece

- About 80% of Greece is mountainous (or steep steps without handrails)

- There are more than 2,000 Greek islands but only a couple of hundred are occupied

- The island of Ikaria is one of the Blue Zones where a high percentage of villagers live to be 100

- We have at least 250 days of sunshine a year

- The word 'barbarian' comes from Greek 'barbaroi" which means people who don't speak greek and sound like they are saying  'bar-bar-bar-bar'.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Sunday coffee

From my usual seat at the Happy Chairs Cafe

Egg delivery.  The guy on the bike to the left is balancing a tray of eggs in his left hand

And  here they come into the cafe all safe and sound.  Omelette with feta and bacon, one of our favourite mezes with a glass of wine

The family bike.  Baba takes his daughter home, both without crash helmets, Dad driving with one hand on the 'wheel' and one arm round his daughter.  A very common sight.

Not many wear crash helmets anyway.  Wonder what sort of protection they think a jockey cap will give.

Heavy Sunday traffic on the waterfront

Coffees and beer . The owner paid for two rounds of beers.  A passing son in law paid for another round and a friend who thought he 'owed' us paid for another.

A cheap Sunday morning at our favourite watefront cafe.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Poros Harbour hustle


The daily cruise boat comes in so the day trippers can enjoy an hour of ice-cream,  a few classic greek photo shots, three souvenir shops and a whiff of the fish and meat market. 

 The boat goes on to the islands of Hydra and Aegina where there is more ice cream, bags of local pistachio nuts to buy on Aegina and silly photos to take of the more daring lurching along on smelly donkeys on Hydra

The Flying Dolphin (hydrofoil) pulls in from Piraeus (the port of Athens) to off load a few locals and tourists.  The local agent was on hand with two big plastic cups of coffee for the Captain and his Mate

Our daily mail arrived as well.  The bags are hauled down to the Post Office

Some of the hundreds of school children on a day trip from some school in Athens or a little further north.  May is the month of 'Educational' day trips.  Buses arrive on Galatas in the early morning pouring out dozens of school kids, usually in the 10-13 year old group, a few hardy parents and a couple of very brave teachers.  They crowd on to the car ferry and come across to Poros to wander noisily in swarms up and down the waterfront,  to climb up and leave  graffiti on the blue and white clock tower,

I wuz heer
F*** Olympiakos (or some other football team ) 
in english and greek
Nikos is a wanker (usually in greek)

and to then spend the rest of the day in rowdy gangs in the souvlaki and coffee shops.

I could hear them in the souvlaki shop next door, as I left the cafe, making obnoxious remarks about this overweight old xeni (foreigner) who had to push her quad bike into the middle of the road to get it going in the right direction.  Finger!!!

They do however bring a lot of cash into the Poros economy at this slow time of the year so we all put up with them.  What the 'educational' bit of a trip to Poros is I don't know.

Our grandkids go to nearby Naflpio or Athens and are made to traipse around a museum or archeological site before being let loose to be just as obnoxious and wreak revenge.

The car ferry full of furies

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


On one of our car trips to Nafplio we had time to stop at our favourite small taverna 'Rakomel', home of Raki, with excellent and authentic greek mezethes at a low price and good wine, ouzo or raki.

This is a sign inside the shop

Drink a glass of raki (grappa, pastis, ouzo, sambucca, arak )

The First glass gives you an appetite
The Second, health
A third, happiness
Fourth, success
A Fifth glass brings conversation
A Sixth verbosity
A seventh ends in a scuffle
The eighth glass brings the Police
The ninth glass a Judge
And the tenth a funeral.....

So we kept away from the raki and drank a half litre of wine
with a plate of black-eye peas dressed with vinegar, olive oil, and lots of onion and parsley (no garlic?)

Greek barrel wine is ordered by the kilo but it comes in a litre jug.

So I googled

Litres and kilograms are more or less equivalent when the substance measured is water, or in this case, wine.