local-kiwi-alien

Friday, 29 March 2019

Confusion

Attention Roadworks 
Snarl-ups on the harbour road.  The one way road has become two way because of roadworks along the harbour. This big articulated truck barely got through without a scratch.  Imagine what happens when he meets another big truck coming the other way



We all manoeuvered, backing up and parking on the pavement


Yes, he did get through



Further down in front of the coffee shops the smaller cars were once again climbing up on the pavement amongst the cafe tables to let the trucks through.  
Something interesting for us to discuss and argue about while passing the time with a coffee


Traffic jam

This convoy, headed by the enevitable truck.........


Met these two

Easter is in four weeks.  The island overflows with cars for this most important holiday.  Wonder if they'll manage to sort out the trenches in the road  by then and have the quay back to solid cement instead of rocks and dirt.

If they don't it will chaos, not confusion



Tuesday, 26 March 2019

25th March


25th March
Greek Independence Day
Honouring the start of the revolution in 1821 to remove the Ottoman Turks from Greek soil
In 1829 Greece was finally freed from the Ottoman yoke and declared an independent nation

Celebration of the Annunciation in the Greek Orthodox church
 Archangel Gabriel informs Mary of her upcoming virgin birth 

Big military parade

Name Day for Vangelis and Evangelia

Eating of salt cod and garlic sauce
One of two days during Lent when it is ok to eat fish 
The second day is Palm Sunday



We always fly the flag on National days and celebrations
The little black one on the left is the silver fern of New Zealand





Boys in traditonal island dress

After the speech making -
 poems of historical fervor read by pupils of all ages from pre-school to Lykeio -
 wreath laying -
the national anthem of Greece -
 and the final parade of pupils from all the schools
there is dancing in the square
A display of classic dances from the islands and the Greek mainland



Little-uns put on a display of greek dancing, some wearing the costume of Greek Queen Amalia


Then the older-uns take over, grandaughters included



We had a front row seat at our favourite cafe which is right on the square

Coffee first and then a glass of wine.  All the people of Poros are out today, dressed in their finest along with hordes of city slickers here for the long warm weekend and quite a few tourists and yachties.
Most of our time is not spent drinking 'coffee' but greeting friends and relatives.  All of Poros passes before us and most of them receive a handshake, a kiss on both cheeks or at least a 'Kronia Polla'. 'Many Happy Returns', the customary greeting on this day.

After all these shenanigans we were off to Galatas for a meal of salt cod and kalamari to honour the brother of our son-in-law whose name is 'Vangelis'.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Spring

Winter is a memory.  Rain and more rain.  Icy winds straight from the Siberian steppes, the daily emptying of ashes from the wood burner.  No more.  Our wood pile isn't quite finished.  We have enough for a few BBQs, roasting the easter lamb but hopefully not for a sudden drop in temperatures.

Spring has arrived though there's not much to show in our neighbourhood.  I have spotted  more red anenomes and I've seen two wild red poppies.  The hydrangea has turned into a leafy green bush and the recently pruned grape vine has new shoots.

Over the other side of the strait, up the hill and round the corner there is a completely different climate.  We went down to the farmer's market at Ermioni, a small coastful village about an hour away.  Once we were up the hill and round the corner the sun shone brightly and warmly.  The hillsides were ablaze in reds, yellows and purples from all the wild flowers.  The olive trees had white carpets of chamomile underneath.  Stunning.

A little further on the market garden fields were green with cabbages and lettuces and workers were planting tomatoes and zucchini.





This little church overlooks the sea.  I managed to get K to stop for a minute to take photos. It was clear enough to see over to the island of Hydra


The view from the church


Summer plantings
Tomatoes, aubergines, green peppers and zuchinni.  It's still a little early for the basil  I wanted 


A calm spring day on Ermioni harbour.
These are two of the big fishing fleet which harbours here


And loads more of these smaller fishing kaïkis

We sat outside in the sun along with tables of german and english residents enjoying a beer or a glass of wine.  This market is multi-cultured.  The germans and english own homes around here and live permanently.   Coming down from Poros there are plenty of big gated villas with groomed lawns and gardens, trees and flowers and no rubbish aroud the perimeters, a sure sign of foreign ownership.

In the market itself greek is only one of the many languages heard.  There are Indians and Pakistanis with their families, workers in those market gardens, Bulgarians, Ukranians and Romanians, and a New Zealander!

I have just seen a sure sign of spring.  I heard  rustling noises in the long grass under the carob tree and it wasn't Vaso inspecting her carob crop but a slow plodding tortoise, woken up from his winter hibernation 



Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Our Ghost Returned

Heebie jeebies, midnight hauntings, bad vibes, it's all happening here.  

You might remember one post I wrote about our ghost.  The ghost who activated the flash on my quad bike, usually on dark nights with no moon. Making the trek across the road to turn the damn thing off  was a rather scary trip.   

The same ghost, one presumes there was only one, would turn on the radio in the middle of the night, the radio that is in our back shed.  That was another scary after-midnight trek that I made many a time.


He, we thought it must be the previous owner, Mr Lambros, would also turn on the tap outside at inconvenient hours.  

I can't recall how many times I was woken in the middle of the night by the sound of music, the tik,tik,tik of the bike flash, or the noise made by water streaming into a marble sink.

Eventually we lit a candle for the ghost and since then all these odd occurences have stopped.  Completely.  Until a few days ago. 
Twice now we've woken in the middle of  the night to pitch black.  No hall light, no emergency light, just utter darkness.  A black out.  But not a general black out, nothing to do with the electricity department.  After a short investigation my inhouse electrician realised the switch had been short circuited (or whatever you call it when the general switch goes down),  flipped it up and all was well.  Till it happened the second time, once again around 5am.


K is looking at the power points outside to see if any have got wet during some very heavy winter rain.  I doubt that's the cause.  We're waiting to see if it happens again.

I thought it might be the ghost that was flooding our bathroom floor at odd times but that is 'probably' caused by a leaking pipe.  'Probably', because the water appears on the floor at  times when no-one has been into the bathroom and turned on a tap.  I'm watching that situation as well.

Those first ghost episodes came a to head when one night there was an almighty crash and we found that a heavy brass bell and a brass mortar and pestle had 'fallen' from the bookcase.   I suppose I should light another candle now before some other resounding crash or mystic episode breaks our peace and quiet.

Reminds me of a friend of mine here on Poros who moved into the house of a cousin of ours.  The cousin's elderly mother had lived all her life in the house and in later years she had a 'fascination' with taps.  She turned them all on and left the water running till one of the family found a flood on their daily visits.  In the end they turned her water off and removed some of the taps.  

When my friend moved into the house a couple of years later she would often find the kitchen tap running.  One day the tap turned itself on while she was in the kitchen with her back turned.  Fortunately J was not easily scared and talked to Kyria Marissa like an old friend.  She and the ghost had a very friendly relationship.   J found some of her bits and pieces around the house, some old shoes in the goat house, a small parcel of old valueless coins, some cutlery in the drawer of a kitchen table.  She cleaned all these up and kept them safe for the old lady so her ghost had no reason to be spiteful.




This head of garlic, wrapped in fishing net is hanging over our front gate.  It is supposed to keep away the evil eye, and vampires.  It does wonders for the vampires but it doesn't stop blue eyed fiends casting the evil eye on us and ghosts are unimpressed by a bit of garlic.






Sunday, 17 March 2019

NZ



This sad little kiwi has appeared all over social media


  The news coverage here in Greece of the horrific shooting was extensive.  So many greeks know the country close-up because of visits or immigration.

Every news report emphasised the peacefulness, the friendliness, the cleanliness!  A lot of it was over the top. 

My cousin Jenny wrote
'As a country, the common feeling is one of disbelief, yet a horrible awakening that we are truly part of the global scene, and no longer immune to the shocking events taking place all over the world'

Numerous tales were told....... you can walk barefoot, in the grass, on the sand, to the shops or around the supermarket.  Ask my daughter Danae.    I think she wore jandals (flip flops) half a dozen times when we last visited.  The pavements, the grass, the parks are clean!

We heard about the NZers who fought next to the greeks during the 2nd WW, their bravery in the battle for Crete.

We heard that people  still leave their doors unlocked .. wishful thinking probably nowadays, but I'm prepared to be wrong

I sometimes think that living on a greek island is similar, yet so foreign .  It's safe here.  Crime, they used to say, was committed by tourists, usually robbing other tourists.  I wouldn't agree to that anymore but  violent crime here is  unknown and we do leave our doors open (with caution)
 and keys in the car.

The police, some said, took a while to respond but that is because NZ police do not carry guns and the Armed Defenders Squad had to check the area was safe before allowing in other services.

I hope that what came out of all these  news reports was in the end a positive message and NZ will still be thought of as an awesome country to visit .  As an ex-pat of 46 years it's still my south sea island paradise. 


Kia Kaha, Kouragio
Courage kiwis 



Sydney Opera house
Support from across the Tasman Sea



Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Clean Monday

Start of orthodox Lent
Clean Monday

What a day.  It's  a public holiday and  another huge celebration.  When the children were young we went on picnics and flew kites, both part of the traditons of this day.  We ate shellfish, flat bread baked without yeast, pickled vegetables and fish roe.

Times have changed.  The children have grown up and for the grandchildren, coming up to our house is like a frolic in the wild.
For the adults, it is another day of ouzo and wine, lots of octopus, taramasalata, prawns, and sea urchins.  The kids eat fried kalamari, freshly baked lagana (flat bread) and chips.

Everyone was happy, the sun shone.  Children frolicked, dogs chased cats, men roared and women trilled.  I shot a short video of the noise, confusion and air of celebration but can't get it to play on the blog.  To write about the chaotic astmosphere, to describe the antics just does not give you any idea of our family pandemonium.




Everything we could make, bake or cook ourselves, we did so.
Homemade lagana (bread without yeast) , taramasalata (fish roe dip), and dolmathes (vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs) and a jug of homemade wine.  Crabs are from a friend, octopus (not shown) from the seas around the island and prawns from the (local) fishmonger.  The lemons are from our trees naturally.  We had sea urchins in their spiny half shell and kalamari (frozen, it's cheaper and more tender), pickled cucumber and cauliflower (home prepared) and halvas (a sweet made from semolina and olive oil)

Vaso sent down 6 litres of her latest rosé







After  all that eating  half the family trooped off up the hill to fly a kite
Blue skies but with little wind


Yes, the kite did get tangled up in that telephone wire
With a bit of effort and ingenuity they retrieved the kite but left the string





The girls did a little work in the garden
Trimming the branches of the lemon trees




A new way into the house
At least he managed to get the window open after it had been closed all winter

Everyone helped with the clean up. All the dishes were washed. Cats gathered from all over the neighbourhood to  squabble over prawn shells.
Rubbish was hauled away by departing guests. 

A happy family









Wednesday, 6 March 2019

In Dry Dock


Twice a year my son-in-law pulls his taxi boat, 'Socrates', out of the water for a scrub and polish.

February this year was not the best time to start scraping and painting.  There was just too much rain, the wood was too wet and there was no sun to dry the paint.



Taxi boat Socrates

However, the boat was pulled up onto dry land, all the 'barnacles' were scraped off the hull, minor alterations in design and technical stuff were all accomplished.   It was the worst of a greek winter, blustery, snow flutters, rain and just a little sunshine.  





Inspection from Kyriakos,
Captain of the Good Ship Socrates


Serious discussions took place






Pride of the fleet
Taxi boat Socrates
Freshly painted, gleaming in the sun


A photo of the Socrates a few years ago
Captain Kyriakos gets ready to heave-ho


A line of fishing boats and water taxis

Sailing along the harbour into the main town.

 Socrates ferries passengers from the mainland town of Galatas to the island of Poros.  The crossing takes a few minutes and costs 1euro. The strait is only  250 metres.  My grandchildren have swim across.

There are water taxis 24 hours, though after midnight on a winters night there will only be one on duty.  If you're on Poros wanting to go to the mainland and  the boat is across the waters you whistle him over.  

On Poros island are all the banks, the post office and government offices for a dozen or so villages in the area.  The villagers come in by bus or car and cross over to do their business and cross back when they've finished,  Many people live on the mainland and work on the island so there is a constant stream of people being ferried to and fro. A water taxi leaves every 20 minutes from both sides.

There are more than a dozen boats and the owners work long hours to make a living.  The most lucrative hours are on a Friday and Saturday night when the younger generation from outlying villages cross over to Poros to have a 'wild'  night out in the bars and cafeterias.  After midnight the tickets are double the price.

So you can see that the island of Poros is never really cut off from the rest of Greece. It is rare that high winds and rough seas stop the water taxis and the car ferry from sailing. 

We have the peace and safety of island life but are close enough to big city amenities when we need them



Sunday, 3 March 2019

Greek Island..February

On a sunny winter's day in paradise...




A small fishing boat cuts its way through the bay, heading back to harbour to sell its catch


Poros from the far end of the harbour, looking back to the main town and clock tower


The first floors have balconys for hanging out the clothes, sitting and pondering
However
On street level washing is hung out to dry on a rack on the pavement


On a warm day sitting outside on the sidewalk with a cup of coffee and watching the boats sail through the passage is a simple winter pleasure


Boats are parked side by side with cars along the end of the habour, keeping them safe from winter storms


The house in the sea
It has been built on a small causeway, jutting out into the sea
A lot of rising damp I imagine in the winter


This island guarding one end of Poros harbour has the ruins of a Venetian stronghold.  Sheep graze on its slopes but it is forbidden to step foot on the island,  There are antiquities  which have not yet been excavated