Sunday 12 December 2010

winter arrived yesterday at 1pm

Yesterday morning I was in short sleeves hanging out the washing on another beautiful sunny day.  By midday I was in my long sleeved fleece bringing in the washing and closing windows because of heavy rain.  An hour later it was freezing.  This morning it is snowing in Athens.  Winter has arrived.  The snow fields in northern greece are open.  Maybe the snow fields around here will be open soon too.  Just an hour and a half from Poros, folks.

All shipping has come to a halt because of very high seas.  This time it is not strikes which has brought all transport to a halt.  Mind you, it could be over by Monday.  The weather had better be a helluva lot better by Tuesday.  We have a road trip into Athens scheduled.  There is one water taxi going to and fro between Poros and Galatas with two ferryboat-men to hold it and the car ferry is going every hour instead of half hour.

Last night we had a visit from Kyriakos and the two little people, Jamie and Natali.  Of course, Kostas lit the fire and he and Kyriakos were grilling chicken and pork chops.  What else to do in such cold weather.  They started off with raki and then went on to wine.  Must say Kyriakos did stop the alcohol and go on to coca-cola because he was driving back down the winding road in the dark with two small children.  He looks after the children in the evening when Elli is working and is great with them.  He feeds them, takes them out, bathes them, 'milks' them and they are asleep when Elli returns at 9.  I know certain other males have done more but for a greek male he is a shining example.

Yiannis isn't too bad either in an emergency.  When Danae was ill not long ago he took the kids to school, cleaned the house, did the shopping and cooking and organised the homework. Not his usual activities.

Jamie, the little devil, is playing the Holy Child (not the Holy BABY) in the xmas pantomime at pre-school.  We are all still chuckling about that.  He is the youngest and probably the smallest in his class so the obvious candidate.  But can he keep still long enough?
nb - at the rehearsal yesterday apparently he was up and down like a bumblebee and as his finale he whacked the Virgin Mary.

He is a whizz with anything electronic - but what child isn't nowadays.  He brought a dvd with him in his little spiderman back pack and put it in our new player, which I still can't operate, and was watching Felix the Cat before I could get up out of my chair to help him. 

Felix the cat, the wonderful wonderful cat
whenever he gets into a fix
he reaches into his bag of tricks.

Puke the cat
the terrible, terrible cat
whenever we can't take no more
She gets the boot, and out the door

Wasn't Felix around when I was his age?  He loves Felix and the mad professor. Today is his birthday.  He is 4 years old.  The clans will gather and lots shall be eaten and drunk as usual. 
NB - he had a pirate party.  We all wore pirate hats and his cake had a pirate ship on it - cake made by Elli.  Roast pork, sausage pies, cheese pies, potato salad, fish sticks, egg sandwiches cut in the shape of dinosaurs, meatballs, popcorn - all unsalted.

How do you roll out pastry without a rolling pin?  With great difficulty.  You push the pastry out with your fingers and try and close the holes as they appear.  We had all the children here not long ago and George was wielding the rolling pin.  Someone told him to put it down before one of the others got it and clonked someone or something.  So where did he put it down?  Or did an 'older person' take it and hide it?  No-one knows.  Especially not me.  I have searched high and even higher- where else to search in a small house?  One day it will turn up - I'll let you know WHERE.
nb - ALL the kids are here again today for yet another bbq on our open fire.  This is not going to be a peaceful Sunday but Kostas is grinning from ear to ear and was hauling firewood at 10am and re-examining the menu in case we don't have enough to eat.  We always have money for food.

I made muffins and cinnamon rolls and bread yesterday - with a borrowed rolling pin.  What else does a woman do in weather like this- well, except sit down and read a book.

Kostas put the christmas tree up and even decorated it with our big red xmas balls.  Are they balls....or is there another word.  'Balls' is not a word that is socially acceptable anymore.  He has strung up lights on the lemon trees and made the summer umbrellas into xmas trees and has more in mind.  We also put down the last carpet as the tiled floors were getting a bit cold.

I looked up 'Xmas in New Zealand' on the net. Christmas down under is something completely different from what I remember.  I read about 'assorted breads with dips such as guacamole, dukkah!! and hummus.  NZ xmas carols, picinics and games at the beach, a hangi with the whanau (did that word exist when we went to school?), bbqing with exotic salads, cricket tests and Santa wearing jandals.

We were still having the traditional english xmas when I left with roast lamb and all the trimmings. Now you even have xmas in July.

New Zealand xmas carols seem to have taken over from the traditional english ones as well.  I did manage to hear 'kiwi jingle bells' on one site.  Georgeous.  Sung in a broad kiwi accent with real dinkkum kiwi lyrics.  Now I read you have 'The Southern Cross Looks Down', a 'Pukeko in a Ponga Tree', 'Sticky Beak the Kiwi' and 'The Jersey Cow came Mooing'.  I must see if I can download them from the net.

We brought back lots of xmas crackers from Australia this year.  At least those will be the original instead of homemade paper hats stuffed into decorated cardboard from loo rolls.  Of course Kostas is worrying at us about the xmas menu.  Shall we have turkey or pork or preferably turkey AND pork and a leg of lamb  cooked in the outdoor wood oven.  His wine has cleared thanks to the north wind and he is 'tasting' it with every meal'
nb - the latest is that he has also ordered a cows head for xmas and is going to slow roast it in the outside oven.

YES, it is official , the pavlova is KIWI.  I heard it on the news - on 3 NZ news over the net!   Some one in england (was it the oxford dictionary?) says they investigated the whole controversy and yes, the new zealanders made it first.  Australians say it is a conspiracy.  Just hope Elli makes one for xmas day.

Kostas cooked a rustic rooster with that long, fat, slippery, tubey macaroni for lunch and is now cooking 'keftethes' for Jamie's party - meatballs to the rest of the world.  It is his speciality - along with roast pork.
We are also cooking the three dozen frozen cheese pies. 

Tomorrow I shall be looking for a recipe for yoghurt cake and something else to do with the quinces.  Our next door neighbour - Vasso's son is in charge of supplies at the Navy base.  He brought us 50 pots of yoghurt left over from the last lot of recruits.  There are another 200 if someone wants them.

I spent a day with Jan making more marmelade with the last of the grapefruit.  We did it a bit more carefully than my usual slap and dash methods.  13 pots of perfect marmelade.  Sorry, you're too far away to send them - although by courier they would probably be safe.  I once brought back a large jar of Edith's homemade tomato sauce in my handluggage.  Delish.  Not acceptable anymore either.  No liquids allowed in hand luggage.

Sunday morning after the birthday party.  The sun is shining and it is a beautiful but extremely chilly day.The wind is still blowing down straight from the russian steppes. 

EX-king Konstantine has been sent a tax bill of 2.000 euros for the years 2004-6.  I hope he gets another one for for ten times the amount.   Lots of people are getting their taxes re-evaluated.  Poor Kyriakos got a bill for 500 euros.  That's not fair.  He has to work many, long hours to make that amount. Kostas is a 'civil servant' pensioner and so far he is safe.

The 'bifteki' have been slapped into shape.  The souvlaki on their sticks are marinating.  The chicken has been cut up.  Yiannis is bringing gallons of wine.  Elli is bringing extra bread.  The show will soon be on the road.

I moved the laptop into the lounge for a little more peace and quiet.  I am waiting for Nels to come and help me finish the xmas decorating.  I put a xmas cloth on the big table yesterday and 3 red candles in the middle.  Roll on New Year.  And more eating.  GROAN

doing what he does best

Tony (in jandals), Brad and Niki
doing what he loves most

Saturday 4 December 2010

4th DECEMBER review

For those of you who are wondering what we did during the summer.  Well, we sweated.  We had a few visitors from down-under.  My nephew Steven from Perth came with his, then fiancee, Teresa to met all the greeks.
For those of you who don't know, we went to Australia in October for a family wedding and had a wonderful wonderful time.  Our first 'foreign' nephew Steven got married to Teresa  in Perth and all the family gathered to celebrate and shop and drink and some of us ate rather a lot as well.  Fish and chips and meat pies seemed to have been on most of my menus.  The wine was nectar and the beer wasn't half bad either.  'Little Creatures" brewery in Freemantle...visit, drink and enjoy!  That was beer that even I enjoyed.  We had our last of many bottles in Perth airport just before flying out.

The hospitality was overwhelming.  Our beds and pillows were so soft.  Civilisation!   The wedding was beautiful.  I've run out of adjectives to describe the terrific time Kostas and I had.  I will get my thesaurus out and start on the trip in another blog.  Just let me say the besides the beds and the beer we loved the eucalyptus groves, the ice-cream, the shopping malls, the excellent coffee, the sushi at roadside stops (sushi???  I thought Aussies and kiwis snacked on meat pies and sandwiches), the whales, the  waves, the little white greek church in the middle of nowhere, the news in ENGLISH, the immaculately groomed lawns of the many many wineries we visited, the naval museum with the history of the greeks from Kastellorizo, the warmth and welcome we found everywhere. And Silvies fantastic steaks.  I could and will go on and on.  Perth is a beautiful city.  I loved the buzz , the diversity of the people, the cleanliness, the inner city rush.  I've run out of english words again.  Karen you are a marvel.  Creasys thank you thank you.  And my nephews and nieces - what wonderful (stale old adjective) people they are.  Intelligent, friendly, social, gorgeous.  You all did a good job there, bros.

Birthday - Kostas got up early and made eggs and bacon, mounds and mounds of it.  Even he couldn't eat it all.  Then he mixed his homemade burgers and got out of the house for an hour so I could read my email and even answer some of it.  Wasn't he nice!   I made a couple of loaves of bread and cut up all the bacon that was left over and put that in the dough as well.

Jan arrived first so we opened the beaujolais and gossiped till the kids came and took over.  I cut up my bread, opened the Margaret river oil and dipped it in the dukkah.  No one was impressed.  I ate the dukkah and loved it.  Jan ate it to, probably since there was nothing else to soak up the wine at the time.  Humph, I shall finish it off myself.  ps greek oil is better and cheaper.

Kyriakos brought the bottles of chenin blanc and some bratwurst sausages which taste almost like english ones.  He found some good cheap salmon steaks too.  We had wraps and lots of crisp iceberg lettuce - not that limp 'cos lettuce'.  Kostas made the burgers and the kids made hamburgers with buns.  Everyone was happy, even Kostas.  And Elli made a pavlova.  She makes a mean pav and it was perfect.  George and I blew out the candles a few times - with Jamie's help of course.  The kids had choc bars instead of birthday pav .  Then they all went out and ripped the clean backyard to bits.  But they were happy.

I got a nice earthy coloured cushion, JENGA (yes, I told everyone what a great game it was, so they bought it for me - no language barrier in this game, but as a sagittarius I DO HATE TO LOSE), a new blouse, ANTI-WRINKLE cream.  hmmmm And some nice xmas salt and pepper shakers.

I had a great time.  No fatty pans to clean up for a start.  And no drunks.  I got greetings from everyone, everywhere, thanks to Niki who started it all off on facebook.  No, the family emails all came first but I was still getting greetings on facebook at midnight.  Not often I look on facebook but at times like this it certainly is worth it.

me with Nels and Poppi-Lydia

the happy couple

playing monopoly with all the grankids

Some little person bashed in the glass of our camera so we have no photos of yesterday but here are some others for the blog.  xx to you all

Friday 3 December 2010

Greek logic

I have already posted this once but I reckon it is worth a second reading!

How to live life to the full!
A boat docked on a Greek island.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took them to catch.

"NOT VERY LONG' they answered in unison.

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"  .........million dollar question


"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take
siestas with our wives. In the afternoons we have a snack at the beach or go into the village to see our friends at the Kafenio,
have a few drinks and play tavli. In the evenings we go to a taverna play the bouzouki and sing a
few songs, maybe break a plate or two.

The tourist interrupted,
"I have an MB A from Harvard and I can help you!
You should start by fishing longer every day.
You can then sell the extra fish you catch.
With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?"

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring,
you can buy a second one and a third one
and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man,
you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant.
You can then leave this little village and move to A thens or even London!
From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?"

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

" Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting, "
answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions?  Really?  And after that?"

" After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

"With all due respect, that's exactly what we are doing now.
So what's the point wasting twenty-five years?"
asked the Greek fishermen?

And the moral of this story is:
Know where you're going in life....
you may already be there!


Thursday 2 December 2010

the albie

Kostas went out eary this morning and got an albie (albanian) to help him clear up his shed and the yard.  He did and amazing job.  Has cleared all the weeds and I hauled away to the rubbish bins down the road 6 huge bags of weeds (those that wouldn't fit into the compost), bags of old cement, loads of old piping and half a dozen huge bowls full of old fishing gear and rusty hooks.  No wonder the rubbish people here go on strike so often, the crap they have to pick up.  Now I have to clean the car.

Alas all that wild sorrell has also gone but I'm sure it will be back with the first rain.  He even cleared the vegetable bed so maybe now we can put in a few lettuces and a bit of rocket for the winter.  All my gnomes and rabbits have appeared from under the undergrowth.  Looks good.

Had a quick session with Elli and Danae this morning to make sure that everything is ready for the party tomorrow.  Salad and sandwiches - ha ha.  But Kostas is allowed to BBQ a few beefburgers and a chicken so there will be no grumbling thank you.  Lots of ketch-up and chocolate for Georgie.  But he is having another party for his friends on Saturday.  Lucky Danae. `

Now Kostas has gone out to get souvlaki (the gyro meat in the pitta bread) because I only cooked a little fish for lunch. 

Do you know that there are lefthand scissors?  How did I survive without them?  Jamie is left handed and his teacher got a special pair of scissors for him.  And it made a big difference.  He can actually cut now.  IS THIS A GOOD THING?

Nostalgia - Pukehina beach

Wednesday 1 December 2010

first of december

Richard and Muriel - roof top Poros
(Old school Friend - Te Puke High, early 60's)

Temperatures are still quite high for this season - around 25 c today.  Lots of wind but no rain.  The rest of europe is digging out of snow drifts and their temperatures are just above zero.  Poor old Spain is freezing and so is most of Italy.  Why do we have such a different climate - only a little bit further east.

Today it is 'horta' that I am cooking - for Kostas.  Very healthy.  Usually accompanied by fish but I think it will be just fried potatoes today. This 'horta' are weeds from the fields.  Fields usually covered in sheep or goat droppings.  This particular weed is the root and early green leaves of the dandelion - before the flower opens.  It is a little,  bitter Kostas prefers it that way.  Doused in lemon juice and olive oil of course.  He'll find some fish to grill later on for sure.  Can't eat it 'orphano' - orphaned or all alone.