Monday 8 April 2013

Spring is definitely here.  I have cleaned out the fireplace but the room is going to take a lot more work.  The fireplace surround is black  and I imagine the walls are the same.  The rafters are full of cobwebs.  I need a cleaning team - albanian, bulgarian, romanian.  

Danae and children have already been swimming.  Think 'swimming in September in Nz'.  Think 'freezing'

She and her children came up on Saturday and we did some cleaning.  George dug up the potatoes that were left.  Half of them have purple patches in the middle. We aren't eating those. Looked on the web and there wasn't much about purple-patched-potatoes but no-one seemed to think that we should eat them.  Nothing to do with the proper-purple-potato.  Half the crop is ok.....  see photo below

We cleared three huge bags of wild sorrel from the front garden.  The lettuces have finished but the broad beans are ready for picking now.  K loves them boiled and eaten with olive oil, lemon juice and a garlic/bread sauce called 'skorthalia.  Our neighbour just brought in another bag of his broad beans for us and I already have a big bowl in the freezer.  We definitely have too many broad beans.

The garden looks nothing like it should at this time of the year.  Two years ago we paid an albanian 40 euros to clear the gardens and 'lawn' (think knee high weeds) and dig the small garden plot ready for planting.  Last year we paid him 20 euros ....this year we have to do it ourselves and the result is patchy.  It needs an albanian (or bulgarian/romanian) to come and tidy it all up and do some heavy digging.

K is no longer fixing washing machines and doing extra work.  Someone (a 'friend') ratted on him and he has been warned. He could lose his pension or get a huge fine. He still fixes things for friends and neighbours and now and again gets paid in money but is more likely to get a few eggs, a bag of lettuces, a bottle of wine.... or some more broad beans

Last Saturday we had a church service to say 'thank you' for Jamie's good health.  Kyriakos had pledged a service if all went well.  It is a common thing to do.

It was held in the tiny little church at the end of Askeli beach where he was baptised.  The priest, the chanter, the lady-who-helps and four others fit inside.  The candles, the main icon and the rest of the congregation stand outside.

This is the church and that is Jamie having just been
baptised.  With his Mum and Dad (left) and Nona (godmother) on the right.......6 years ago

Our camera is broken so I'm giving a bit of colour with some old photos

Jamie (Dimitris) was born with a calcium growth on his kidney and he was under weight for a long time - but still a very active child.  He  goes for tests to the children's hospital in Athens every three months but is normal weight and height now and even more active.

He has blood tests once a month and is so used to having a needle stuck in his arm he does not even flinch.  There is always a smile on his small and devlish face.

Any one with small children may know the kids programme 'Sam the Fireman'.  Sam spends his time rescuing and saving a little boy called Norman Price who  is always getting into trouble.  Jamie's second name is Norman.

Kyriakos and Elli arranged the service, picked  the priest, chanter and helper up at 6.30 am, provided the candles, oil and communion wine and paid them all a small amount.  Dina (Kosta's sister) brought the bread with the holy stamp and I made the 5 loaves to feed the 5,000 (16 people that were in attendance.)  These are five small loaves which are blessed along with the holy bread and cut up and given to the congregation at the end of the service.  It is a sweet bread flavoured with mastiha (from the island of Chios) and with lots of red wine and orange juice.  I have made these loaves before but this time I surpassed myself.  It is a Cretan recipe I use.

There is a blessing for the health of Jamie and the priest is usually given a list of family names to be blessed at the same time.  Then anyone who wants to takes communion.  The bread is shared around and usually there are cakes and sweets handed out as well.  At some fiestas small pieces of fried fish are handed out too - think, '5 loaves and 2 fish that fed the 5,000'.

George and Jamie were in charge of the candles and it kept them quiet most of the time.  Everyone when they arrive (at any time during the service) kisses the icon and then lights a few candles which are placed in a special bowl of sand.  George and Jamie arranged and re-arranged the candles, re-lit them when they were blown out and removed them when they had burnt too far down.  Perfect job for little boys.

Afterwards we all went to Elli and Kyriako's house for coffee and then ouzo and seafood - and enough wine to drown the 5,000.  It ended up being an all-dayer.

Kyriako's family live just across the water on the mainland village of Galatas.  His two maiden aunts are typical for their generation.  They make every thing from scratch including their own bread and cheese.  They have chickens and a couple of goats.  One of the goats has just had four little kids.  They had the bright idea of giving us one of the kids to keep our garden clear and provide us with milk to drink and make cheese.  Thankfully Kyriakos talked them out of it. Our garden is too small and they might eat up all the broad beans.   I would like to try and make some cheese one day.  Making a 'sort of ricotta' out of yoghurt is easy and Rainy makes feta.  What sort of milk do you use Rainy?

Goats are marvellous lawn mowers.  Our next door neighbour has five goats and they keep her acres clear and clean.  Though in the summer they must need extra feed because everything is dry and brown.  Of course one of the goats has been tagged to be the sacrificial 'lamb' at easter.  

Danae and Yiannis have 'acquired' 2 golden mountain puppies.  Heaven knows what they will do with them.  They already have Spot the scots terrier and these two apparently will end up the size of a bear.  Danae gets bottles of goats milk from a friend of hers as they are still very small and aren't eating solids.  Yiannis says he will keep them and train them.  Good luck.  They must just about bowl him over now at a few weeks old.

Greek easter is on May 5th this year.  A whole month after the rest of the world.

We are well into Lent now.  Danae and Yiannis are not eating meat for the entire 6 weeks.  We will be starting as soon as we finish off Sunday's chicken.

potatoes with purple patches
anyone who knows why they have purple patches, please get in  touch

4,000 year old Mycenean bridge - just 'down the road'

Kathryn (Paul and Karen's daughter) on my quad bike
Poros waterfront
ps I wear a helmet - tho as Kathryn noted it is not 'cool' to wear a helmet here

Ancient theatre of Epidavros - also 'just down the road'

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