Thursday 9 June 2011

getting hotter

June - I took up the first of the carpets today.  They all have to be washed and stored - under the spare bed. Winter clothes have been put away and we're into t-shirts, but it is still raining.  Summer showers which just make it muggier.  The lemons are falling off the trees at a dozen a day.  They make a noise like a small bomb falling in the deep silence of the summer night.  I made some lemonade but will have to get Georgie and Nels to squeeze them all and freeze the juice, to take it out a bottle at a time.  Fresh lemonade is excellent with vodka and gin, but a lot of sugar.

Yesterday was Kosta's birthday.  We gathered as usual and had a bit of lamb and wine.  Just a quiet celebration - except for Jamie who must have been on a sugar high.  He climbed over fences, up trees, under tables and followed Georgie like a shadow. He tried to beat us all with a stick but Elli and I grabbed him and the stick before he did any damage to anyone.  We arranged a treasure hunt which the older kids loved and they made up their own one after that.  It is a great idea - I'll do it again next time and make it harder so they are occupied for longer.  Treasure was a bag of lollies for them - more sugar!

The economy is following its rocky course.  We wake up every morning wondering whether or not to watch the news.  Today is a general strike and everything in the big cities has ground to a halt.  Not much happened here though the banks and P.O. were probably closed and the cafeterias full of strikers enjoying a free day.

We have stopped eating cucumbers although there is no threat here.  All our cucumbers are local.  Just the thought of an e-coli attack puts one 'off'.  At least it wasn't greece that was to blame this time but the first reports did a lot of damage to poor old Spain and all the time the source was in bloody germany.

I haven't got my mini-quad bike yet.  The first one couldn't find their papers and had to pay years back-road-tax.  We found another, got the papers together, and he asked another 200 for the repairs he did.  K said 'parto kai farto' - take it and eat it!   There are others around, most too expensive.  I might just have to learn to ride a scooter. 

Monday 30 May 2011

Greece is going from bad to worse and this is only the beginning.  Will we go bankrupt or go back to the drachma and  devalue the currency till it costs us a million for a loaf of bread?  I think we're are lucky we don't live in Athens or maybe we wouldn't have bread to put on the table.  Money is a lot tighter but we still live comfortably - just differently!  Chicken was the main course on Kosta's name day but we did manage a small piece of pork.  I have money boxes for all the little extras.  Crossing fingers that we'll never be at poverty level!  Driving the car up and down to Poros town is a luxury and I have to get a cheap motorbike and use it.  I don't mind walking downhill but walking 5 kms uphill is not an option though some crazy tourists even try and ride up on a the mid-day sun.  I still baby-sit for Elli most of the week so transport is an essential. 
Spain has had big peaceful protests and one of their recent slogans was 'sshh don't wake up greece'.  Greeks got going on face book and thousands were out all night in cities all over the country and the same thing is happening today.  Just big peaceful protests by ordinary people who can't take any more.  Taxes on basics and luxury goods are going up.  Every thing is 'luxury' now!     There will more  big pay cuts and K's pension is on the list for another cut.  Danae is very lucky to be still getting a child allowance but it won't be for long.  Thank goodness the kids are out of nappies and baby food! 
It has rained all winter long and everything is green and continues growing.  It is still raining even today.  Our garden looks as tho it might finally produce some summer vegies.  We have already eaten the first zucchinis tho it is defintely not summer yet.  I love this cool weather - others hate it.  Kostas has taken a lot of time and trouble and hoed and raked one small area and sewn grass seed - oh and put in a watering system.  One of his cousins (of course) is a gardener in Athens in the rich northern suburbs.  He told us what to do and gave us the seed  so it cost virtually nothing.  It was only a few days ago and hopefully we'll soon have a nice patch of green lawn - and then we need a lawn mower, but K has his eye on one he can 'pick up'. He is stil fixing washing machines on the side so there is a little extra and thank goodness we have Elli doing our tax return so we don't have to pay out any extra.  Doing work on the side is still an option but it is illegal - no tax on that money! - and he does have to be a little careful.  Tax evasion used to be a greek hobby....and look where it got them!  Tax evaders are getting prosecuted now but very very slowly.  Millions are owed by those in high places and millions are in overseas accounts. There is one scandal after another being revealed ...most of them concerning MPs.  The way they live and use our money is incredible.
The kids are surviving.  It is easier living here.  We have contacts and family and help each other.    Elli is working longer hours because it is tax-return time and Kyriakos also but summer is coming so it will be a little easier for him and for Yiannis who works on the yachts.  The island is still filling up with Athenians on good weekends and there are a few tourists around now.  There is still the Navy base with its conscripts 6 times a year and now they are talking about making half the area around the island into a huge fish cultivation area.  It won't be good for pollution, the beaches or the fishermen but might give a few more people jobs.
There are one and a half million refugees in and around Athens. The live in terrible conditions and there is a huge uproar about the crime and squalor of central Athens. The greek unemployment figures have gone up to over 16% and of course are rising all the time.
A day later.  Things look bleak but greeks always seems to pull through somehow.  The IMF and some of the european countries are ganging up on us and calling Greeks a lazy lot of loafers and the political leaders incompetent idiots....hmm. Greeks are extremely unpopular in Holland and Germany - we have been told we're broke and to get out of the EU - along with Ireland and Portugal. There was a meeting of all the Greek political leaders this afternoon but they couldn't agree on anything - typical.  There is pressure on from the IMF  who tell us that if all parties do not agree on the economic policies (ie pay cuts all round, taxes sky high and sell everything from the Post Office to the Acropolis) there will be no more hand outs.  So we are waiting - waiting in the squares, waiting , to see what the hell is going to happen next.
It was Greece's great delight a few weeks ago to wake up and find that Dominique Strauss Kahn the (now ex) head of the IMF had been arrested in New York on rape charges.  The jokes were out before the photos of him in handcuffs. 
The one and only bank on Galatas was robbed early one morning last month.  It is a very small branch...with security doors.  The robbers used hammers to break down the security doors while half of Galatas looked on.  Apparently they used their kalasnikovs to scare off the onlookers, broke in, took whatever they took and were out and off.  The police had a road block further down but the robbers took a short cut and got clean away.  Danae and Elli both heard the gunshots and it was buzz buzz buzz on Poros for 24 hours.  The next buzz was the Public Prosecuter coming in and taking one of the cashiers from the local council away to Athens in handcuffs!  She and a friend had taken 600,000 euros from the council account.  That investigation is still ongoing and we're all waiting to see who else is involved. 
Two days later - the grass that K sowed is starting to show.  There is a light green covering where once there was dirt.  The garden is full of small stones and it is not till you start raking and hoeing that they become obvious.  Georgie got a few euros for filling two buckets of stones and Jamie filled up another couple of buckets but the stones are very obviously still there.  We're hoping that they will co-exist with the grass. 
The tiled area where the garden swing is where we built the new sewage tank....last year.  It took a year to fill up and is now overflowing on to the road leading up to the english people's house next door.  So we didn't fix the sewage problem.  We'll have to keep on emptying the tank I guess until we eventually get hooked up to the local sewage pipe - in 20 years or so.  In the meantime the grass grows greener and taller over the sewage leak.  I told K we should have planted our tomatoes down there.
I got my 'motorbike'.  It is a small quad bike.  Four wheels...yeh!   I drove it up to the house and down again and love it.  But it does go very slowly up these hills.  It will take me another 10 minutes to get home, but who cares. No more parking problems in mid-summer, no more red hot cars and burning stearing wheel.  We can park the car under the olive tree, cover it up and leave it there till the visitors arrive.  And we got it at a very good price, through a friend of K's.  Not a cousin this time. 

Saturday 28 May 2011

 Georgie and Lydia dancing at K's name day - in the background Danae, Elli, Kyriakos, Yainnis, Kostas
 Jamie trying to catch the egg - tradition at the end of Lent.  You can't see the egg in this pic
 He almost got the egg!  It is suspended with cotton from the beams above.
 Linda, Elli, Danae, Georgie and Jamie - at a cafe after the 25th March parade
 Natalia is growing up.  She's a terrible two but actually three going on four
 Jamie in the back yard - the 'before' pic.  Next year hopefully we'll have grass where the weeds are
 Ground ready to be sowed and a bit tidier.  The swing we got for K for his name day
 The swing - occupied by Elli trying to get a bit of peace and quiet away from the kids and photographers
 The day after K's name day when the family got together.  Elli, Danae, Kyriakos, Yianis, Kosta
Nels and Natalia in the lounge with all the IKEA furniture -

Saturday 15 January 2011


Me Elli and Kostas
Elli and Kyriakos - in the days of his long hair

snow on Mike's orchard on Poros - a few years ago

the old house on the island of Angistri where K thinks his grandfather lived

We didn't have snow for xmas.  The weather got a little warmer, if wetter. One day in early morning the sea was steaming.  Quite a sight.  We had a very busy, noisy, family Christmas with turkey, pig's head and a lot of wine and sweet and sticky things.  All the children and grandchildren were here plus quite a few others.  They had a wonderful time playing a long and loud game of  'Uno' - cards most of the afternoon.  I entertained the littler ones and the men drank and ate until the final fall.  They all left early evening and K had just a neighbour for company.  Kostas managed to stagger from table to armchair and the door bell rang to admit a cousin.  He left them drinking whiskey and went to bed.

The next day he blamed the bottle of his 2008 red he opened and two bottles of our neighbours very aged red for his sorry state.  It wasn't properly bottled and it was not good for his stomach.  The bottles of 2009 and 2010 and Yianni's 5 gallon of red were fine though. LOL

The turkey stuffing was from a recipe from ABC Perth - online newspaper.Traditional aussie stuffing it said.  Much nicer than the greek one I have made in the past with mince and chestnuts and finely chopped innards.

IKEA had free brekkies in the week between Xmas and New Year.  That shows how bad the economy is.  If we aren't shopping at Ikea we aren't shopping anywhere!  We were tempted to go and have a free brekkie but it would have cost us 50 euros for petrol, another 35 for road tolls and ferry boat and we would have had to leave home at 6am.  Kostas didn't think it such a good idea though Elli and I were ON!

I made a load of chicken liver pate and then a chicken heart omelette with the hearts that I found amongst the livers.  Sounds horrific but the finished products were quite tasty.  It would have been even beter if someone else had done the cutting up and cleaning of those horrific main ingredients.

Danae's children went around the town on xmas eve carol singing and made a lot of money.  They did it again on New Years Eve - special carols on each occasion - and made even more.  Danae took them into Athens to stay with their aunt for a week after New Year and they managed to spend a little.

Jamie went with one of Elli's friends and pretended to sing a few carols and picked up 30 euros!  All you have to do is look cute.......and visit relatives and friends!

George is still playing tennis and football. He used to train with the Galatas team but has now moved to the Poros team.  The Galatas team is called Theseus, the Poros one Poseidon.  Nels plays tennis too and goes to dancing lessons.  Busy little bees.  Danae was worried about what they were going to do over the winter months on Poros.  They have a full schedule.  George is going to Athens on Sunday to play against other teams.  We took him to Nafplion once - some of the boys playing looked about three years old and they were darn good too.

Nels was in the xmas dance pageant.  Those little girls were good entertainment.  One of Nels dance routines was done to tune of 'It's Raining Men' and there were a few not-so-well known xmas carol tunes as well.  Danae, Elli and I sang along with them all.

Natalia is a 'terrible two', has tantrums when Jamie takes her toys or jumps on her - well, so would I!  But she is the original 'dog in the manger' and as stubborn as a mule!  When she's asleep she's as cute as an angel!

Have to mention the other grandchild - Lydia.  She's a real whirl wind and was in her pre-school xmas show too.  She's afraid of nothing and as bright as a button - except when she first wakes up!

We have planted lettuces, celery, spring onions, rocket, parsley and dill.  Hope the snails let them grow.  Otherwise the wild sorrell reigns out front and bushes of unknown weeds out the back.

I started writing down our xmas menu but it looks very short and sparse - for us.  I must consult the kids, there must have been more.

XMAS 2010

Pigs head roasted in the outside wood oven.  Stank like boiled pigs feet but the real greeks loved every garlicky morsel.  Didn't roast the ears, the butcher cut them off.

Pork leg.  Also roasted overnight in the outside wood oven.  Very Fatty.  I must have thrown out a plastic bag of fat and thick skin the next day when the leftovers were cold and had congealed.  I get all the good jobs!

Turkey, stuffed and roasted by me.  It was a nice french turkey with a pop-up thermometer.  Not one of those running-round-the-yard-yesterday ones hanging in the meat market still  with the heads and feet.

Perth stuffing with breadcrumbs and bacon.

Gravy - without the gravy mix I brought back from Australia.  Elli forgot to bring them. 

Chicken liver pate - home made

Kumara (wish they were), actually sweet potato

brussel sprouts - frozen, though you can get fresh at this time of the year

feta cheese  
kefalograviera - a tasty yellow cheese

cheesy homemade bread

cheese salad - a feta cheese sort of dip (instead of tzatziki)

chocolate walnut cake made by Elli - the very best!!!

Kostas's red wine from various years

wine from various neighbours and relatives

whiskey for those that stayed the longest

Next day we had a house full of left-overs and I made pies and soups all week trying to get rid of it all.

Here is a wish from a friend in New Zealand - one of the best I have ever heard