Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Mid Winter

 K went for a haircut today. There are usually 3 barbershops in different parts of town . They were all closed . The owner of one has retired, one was closed up tight,  one had a phone number and a sign

'Hair cuts by appointment'

So he made an appointment. 

One of the 3 breadshops has closed .  But bread, one of the staples of Mediterranean life is sold at the grocers shop.   Wine is sold cheaply in a 1 1/2 litre plastic bottle and olives are scooped out of a sack into a plastic bag, black, green, salted, wrinkled or not.

The lemon trees have lots of fruit and my oregano plant is still flourishing. It doesn't mind a bit of icy rain.

Those are the basics of life here. Old neighbour Vaso would add an onion, strong and raw. 

Most of the cafeterias are still open but only a few on the main waterfront strip have  numbers of coffee drinkers. 

All of these cafes have only a tiny amount of space inside for tables so the outside area is surrounded by plastic wind breaks and gas heaters. It can be freezing out there. But regulars will still appear to pass time with their chosen company . And smoke. 

There are some which get virtually no sun in the winter. They've closed, till April maybe when Easter visitors arrive and it's a little warmer.

Tavernas, restaurants, close for a couple of months and then in March start cleaning and painting for the new season.  Only 4 or 5 stay open.

 English friends wanted to eat souvlaki, the Greek fast food. The souvlaki shops, souvlatzidika, are all closed .

We sent them to a waterfront restaurant which hopefully will be able to serve them pitta bread, tzatziki, fried potatoes and grilled chunks of chicken or pork.

Grocery shops close at 2pm and only re-open at 5pm on 4 days of the week. Winter hours.  The big supermarket seems to remain open all day.

On Sunday all shops are closed, except those cafes and tavernas. 


A drive through town at 3 in the afternoon is like creeping through a ghost town. Banks, offices, chemist's, the few shops, are closed by 2.30 and everyone goes off home to eat their bean soup and have a few glasses of warming wine. 

 Nightlife still happens. This is Greece! Those cafes and tavernas which are open will go on till the last customer staggers home. There will be noisy voices, music after dark. 

The little taxi boats still ply the straits every 20 minutes. The car ferry leaves every half hour till the afternoon when it's every hour. We are not isolated. The hydrofoil from Athens comes in 3 times a day.   

The temperature today was 11oC with a brisk northerly. The sun came out for a while . A little sun and a good wind got a load of washing dry but I brought it in at 3 and hung it on chairs near the fire to get rid of the chill.


My green garden
Lettuces, nasturtiums, lemons and a healthy cover of clover 







Monday, 30 January 2023

Was that Spring?

 The fields have lots of colour

Green first of all. My beloved green. Fresh and bright. The best of winter. The garden is full of clover and nasturtiums and little else. 


These are photos from two weeks ago . Since then the weather has changed a little. I'm not allowed to go on my daily walk, just yet, so I wonder if these flowers are still alive.  When my looker-after lets me out I shall see the difference.



The fields were full of these.
A type of fresia?
The Greeks call them 'freza'




Still clumps of mauve and pink crocus. They're at the end of their season






And the bougainvilleas were still in bloom, though not with their brilliant summer colour







Saturday, 28 January 2023

Another Day

We actually got a storm warning yesterday. Heavy rain, fog. Miserable really.

Next day the sun came out again  🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞



I do love my filter coffee, preferably vanilla flavoured.
At the end of last winter our coffee machine gave up the ghost (strange saying!)
K couldn't work his magic on it so.... he put it on a shelf. What did you think? He'd throw it away? Never. It's joined his antique treasure trove. 

Anyway ... I bought a small cafetiere . And smashed that.

So he agreed to buy a new coffee machine. After a lot of market research he bought the cheapest. 20 euros. It was made from flimsy plastic and a piece fell off straight away. He stuck that back on and it lasted another month before a valve, or something broke and as you filled it with water from the top it emptied itself out of it's bottom. 



Thank goodness it had a plastic reusable filter so I rigged it up over the glass jug, poured boiling water over the coffee and now I've got a manual coffee maker.






Anyone still got Xmas sweets?

Bet we are the only ones. Our traditional person made enough for half the island and then discovered that everyone was on a diet this year.  He's still eating them. I haven't even tasted one this year. Sometime soon mould is going to start growing on them. Then I suppose he will have to throw them....in the rubbish. Even the cats won't eat them. I wonder if goats eat honey and almond cakes.


 


I was searching for some 'thin' photos and came across this. Must have been taken about 30 years ago

Thursday, 26 January 2023

A Day in Winter

 Wordle . Online word game. Sometimes I've been known to get it in 2. Today the first three lines got me 1 letter. There weren't many left for the 4th attempt so I got it. Beefy. Words like that annoy me. The other day is was 'matey'. I mean, is that legit? Ahoy there matey, find a better word for goodness sake. 

Thunder is rumbling around this morning. It's blowing an icy gale and heavy rain is forecast.

A day for K to ....


Make a few loaves of bread
Under my orders 😂

One loaf has already been sent off to elderly neighbour Vaso and her son.
Son is making fassolatha (traditional bean soup) so she can dunk the bread and soften it. Don't think Vaso has too many teeth left


K prepared a pot of fish soup with a whole red hot pepper


He lit the fire
At 10am
Having brought inside a load of wood 


Enjoying a second morning coffee along with a medicinal stiff raki to warm him body and soul

What a pity I couldn't help him. I'm not allowed to lift weights (firewood for a start), put any pressure on my eye (kneading bread), bend down or skip, jump or hop. As if...
I'm not allowed to go outside when it's blowing Saharan dust (most days, though the rain today must have cleared all that) or wash my hair in case I get water in my eye.

I washed my hair after 9 days with the help of my long suffering husband.
9 bloody days!  Boy was I relieved to have a clean, non itchy scalp. 


Saturday, 21 January 2023

European Aristocracy

 The line up of Royality at the funeral of the late ex-king Konstantine of Greece was fascinating. The families of the Greek, Spanish, British and Danish thrones are all closely related and there are a few other connections too.

Greek news told us there were representatives from five reigning monarchies, but my count was nine. 

Great Britain. Princess Anne, second cousin of Konstantine, with her husband. Lady Gabrielle Windsor who had the late king as one of her Godfathers.

Denmark. Queen Margrethe, sister of the widow, ex greek Queen Anna-Maria. 

Spain. Every royal that ever there was attended. Konstantine was sister to Queen Sofia.

The old king Juan Carlos went into  voluntary exile in Abu Dhabi in 2020 after various scandals, economic and otherwise. Living it up in luxury with one of his mistresses I'm sure. They all put on a united face for the funeral. He was accompanied by his wife during the ceremonies and was photoed hugging his eldest son, now King Felipe. Family sticks together at these times, especially in public. 

Sweden. King Gustav and Queen Silvia .

Norway. Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marie. He is a 3rd cousin once removed of Konstantine and second cousin of Queen Anne-Marie.

Netherlands. Princess Beatrix, 4th cousin and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima

Monaco. Prince Albert 

Belgium. King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde

Luxembourg. Grande Duke Henri. 3rd cousin once removed

Liechtenstein. Princess Margaretha, 3rd cousin once removed

And other royalty......

Queen Noor of Jordan 

From Abolished Monarchies.....

Prince Alexander and Princess Katherine of Serbia 

Roumania. Prince Radu

Bulgaria . Tsar Simeon 11 

Russia. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimiriovna, 3rd cousin from the house of Romanov. 

Hanover . Various Princesses and Princes

Baden-Baden. The Margrave Bernard, second cousin and Margravine Stephanie (don't ask, just Google) 

Ex Empress Farah Phalavi of Iran 

They all came with family and entourage naturally. 

What a line-up. Some of those names are from dynasty's long gone. It was a whole different world back then. The Shah of Iran threw a lavish party in 1971, the most extravagant the world has ever seen to celebrate 2, 500 years of the Persian empire.

He flew in 18 tons of food. All the food except for Russian caviar came from France. He flew in 50,000 songbirds. 250 red Mercedes chauffeured guests from the airport. 125 women spent 6 months embroidering the tablecloth, over 70 metres long, for the  guests of honour. 

You get the idea. So did the Iranian people. He was forced to flee during a revolution in 1979.


Back to Greece. 

The ex king finally got a lying-in-state for a few hours before the service at the Orthodox cathedral in Athens. Thousands gathered to file by the coffin, arriving from all over the country. He was particularly popular in the southern Peloponnese, the long peninsular west of us. Bus loads arrived to say a last goodbye. They gave the Greek family in mourning a very warm welcome. 


I had my cataract operation the day of the funeral so missed most of the live coverage. I caught some of it on the car radio. K would have liked Greek music. He prefers modern day politics. 

The funeral service was conducted by Archbishop Hieronimos. Son Pavlos, so called Crown Prince,  gave a long eulogy, first in Greek and then in English. He was wearing a 5,000 euro suit made by a Greek tailor, so gossip TV said. 

The coffin was then taken to Tatoi, the summer Palace and the family cemetary, followed by a 6 km line of limousines. 

The evening before the funeral aristocratic visitors were welcomed at a banquet at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, where most of them were staying. After the funeral remaining guests attended a memorial dinner, dining on on fine China, crystal glassware with 19carot gold silverware. So said the gossips. 

The Grande Bretagne is in Syntagma Square, central Athens opposite Parliament. Being so close to Parliament its also the best place to watch riots, marches, the throwing of molotov cocktails and clouds of teargas. It was the headquarters of the Nazi High command during WW2 occupation and later the British forces. 

Thursday was the first memorial at the grave site. A private blessing attended by close family. There will be many more memorial services.

I would have been glued to the TV if I could have. It was so interesting seeing all these blue bloods and  glimpses into their lives. The King's life and death was big news until he was buried. Now I'd say the Greek monarchy has also been buried. The ex-Queens death is going to be a quiet occasion. It is rumoured the ex-Crown Prince may move to Athens. If he does he'll be in the social columns but I doubt we will hear much else about the family. 

Elections are coming up in a few months and everyone is focusing on economics, whether they will survive the winter and the latest wife killing. 





















Monday, 16 January 2023

Farewell 2022

 

2022....

A milestone year. I turned 70.  Oldest grandson 21 and two grandkids turned 16. The 16s are excited about now being able to get a license for a motorbike/scooter.  They both already ride their parents’  bikes. It's just the paper work they need.

  Just about everyone here has some sort of 'motor' bike.  Electric ones are very popular because you don’t need a license or insurance.  The damn things are silent and can be dangerous.  You really need to look both ways before crossing the street.

It has been a quiet year for us, except for September and October when we had loads of visitors from Downunder.  They can finally travel freely.  

 The summer season, from May to the end of October, was a busy one.    Roads were clogged with cars, our local beach full of annoying ‘foreign’ bods.  There were times, mid August, that we preferred to stay at home to keep away from the crowds.

September and October, when the hordes had left, nephews and nieces appeared, some for only a few days, others for weeks.  We had a fabulous time with them all meeting up for coffee down on the harbour or an evening meal in one of Kosta’s favourite tavernas.  Oh those wonderful accents.

  My younger brother and wife stayed for 3 weeks.  We gathered for g& t’s and a couple of BBQs. They hired a quad bike and tootled up to our place to drink coffee and catch up on those 3 lost years.  A perfect chance for K to feed them more octopus and greek delicacies.  They never left with empty stomachs.  That would have been a crime in his books.  He extended them 'greek hospitality' as only he can.

Of course we had all-the-family gatherings at our place too.  K would have been very disappointed if he hadn’t been able to feed them all.  There was octopus, greek salad and tzatziki on every one of our menus plus the usual ton of meat or fish. And local wine and ouzo.The weather stayed fine and even at the end of October the younger visitors were still swimming.

The dreaded virus is still around. Mostly forgotten. We all caught it, except K.  We have all been vaccinated and everyone had an easy time of it.  Slight flu symptoms, a headache and that was it. 

It's economic crisis time again.  Did that already in 2012 .  It really does make for a quiet life.  I love it.  Kostas hates it.  He misses  his daily meetings with friends, chewing the fat and drinking raki.  He’d be happier down in Poros where he could walk  around to his favourite watering holes and socially interact with more people.

I can happily spend days up here, 6 kilometres from the harbour, hardly seeing anyone. Though I must admit I did enjoy a coffee down on the waterfront in the summer, people watching and listening to the men gossiping. Whoever says women gossip hasn't spent much time in male company.

I still write my blog, woffling on, but not as often as I used to.  I find I'm writing the same thing year after year.

The summer vegetable garden was a disaster. I planted some tomatoes. We ate 5 cherry tomatoes. It got too hot and everything was burnt brown. I kept the mint, thyme, oregano and the roses alive.  Now I've planted a few lettuces and some rocket. They're growing, at the moment. I'm not a gardener.  I have had successes in the past but my heart is not in it anymore.

More weight off this year.   Still some more to go.  At least  I seem to have found some sort of balance .  I walk most days, now up to 3-4 kilometers.   Almost 3 years ago I started off with intermittent fasting    Lost a lot of kilos. Got bored.  Became a vegetarian.  Lost more kilos the next year. Got tired of lettuce and chickpeas.   Now I’ve done  a 180o turn.   I’m eating carnivore - meat, fish, cheese, eggs, lots of butter and a bit of salad or vegetables. Still losing .  Blood results, blood pressure perfect. More energy.  I hope I don't get bored with this regime too soon.  I rather enjoy being able to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast every day and cheeseburgers for lunch, without the bun. Nothing with flour or sugar allowed. No fruit. But I do have a glass of wine now and again. 

Erdogan, the Turkish PM is still making threats and says he will invade the greek islands one dark night. And his latest hate speech, threatening to target Athens with his missiles. He’s drumming up support for himself by attacking Greece, hoping 'his people' will forget the country is almost bankrupt. Turkey has elections sometime soon.

Then there's the other face I prefer not to see on TV or news apps.  I hear the voices of Putin and Erdogan so often I recognize them without having to see faces.  The Kiev Ukrainians were like the Athenian Greeks, civilians living western lives with their big international chain stores,  nice cars, cosy apartments, children expecting to grow up to be doctors, lawyers, artists, muscians or such.  Then suddenly their lives were torn apart, cities bombed, villages razed, millions became refugees.  It makes me shudder.  I hope it never happens to us or our children or grandchildren.

After being on the cataract waiting list for 18 months we revisited the doctor. Gave him 200 euros under the table and my op was immediately scheduled. Like Immediately! He strode over to the calendar and said 'is the 16th ok for you? You'll  be first for the day'. Actually I was the last .  One eye down. One more to go in a couple of months.

And another year bites the dust.


Wednesday, 11 January 2023

The King is Dead

 





King Konstantine, former King of Greece

King Konstantine II of Greece, was the last King of Greece. Forced to flee in December 1967 after the military junta took power, he lived in England for most of his life.

The Monarchy was abolished on 1 June 1973 and Greece became a republic .

He was a second cousin of King Charles III, godfather to William, Prince of Wales.  He took the throne in Greece at age 24, married Princess Anna-Marie of Denmark. Has five children. The second child, eldest son, Pavlos, is known, outside Greece , as the Crown Prince of Greece.  The king's  sister Sofia married Juan Carlos, King of Spain.

Do we say the former King is dead, long live the new former king? No, the Monarchy has long been abolished.

He was not allowed to return to live in Greece for almost 50 years but finally returned in 2013, living not far from Poros down the coast  at Porto Heli.

Now it seems he will be buried as a private citizen beside his mother and father at the former summer Palace of Tatoï, north of Athens.

Royal mourners from all over Europe are expected to attend. He was related to the royal families of Spain, Denmark and Great Britain and Germany.

His life, death and funeral will make an interesting diversion and hopefully take first place in news broadcasts for a few days, ahead of rape trials, wife killings, refugees, war and political scandal.


The 'imminent' return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece, at the moment in the British Museum, was making headlines, but maybe that news was a little premature. The British Museum has not agreed on anything yet.

The so called Elgin Marbles are a series of marble sculptures looted from the Parthenon, atop the Athens Acropolis, by Lord Elgin in 1801.  Eventually Elgin sold them to the British Museum. Greece has been asking for their return since 1835.