Sunday 28 April 2019

Easter Sunday Begins

The meat is up and turning

It was a good day, it was a long day

Everything has been cleaned up and now it's time to relax a little.

You'll hear all about it very soon, of course

Cheers Big Ears

Saturday 27 April 2019

Easter Saturday

  Christ will be ressurected, the fast is over.  Tonight we can crack red eggs, eat koulourakia and slurp offal soup.  Eating offal soup after midnight is not always good for the digestion.  We do try to be frugal with our portions though the soup is lovely and hot, lemony and generally yummy, if you eat offal.

Today is a long day doing all the last minute preparations.  

The back terrace has to be swept and mopped

The weeds along our front entrance pulled and the road swept

A big canopy is put up.  We were prepared for rain but now the canopy will keep off the sun.  Yesterday the sun came out and temperatures climbed.  It looks like Sunday will be the same

Dried oregano rubbed ready to put on and in the lamb

The oregano stalks go onto the bbq fire to send out their pungent aroma

The pascal lamb (not goat this year) was picked up from the water taxi and carried home in a big balck plastic bag.  It looks like a big one, around 17 kilos.  That's going to take many hours of cooking

All the chairs are taken out to be hosed down to remove winter's dust and cobwebs

We still have to make the offal soup.  There were no entrails in this lamb so we wait for our friendly butcher to send them across from the mainland

Then it is midnight mass, fireworks and offal

Friday 26 April 2019

More on Friday

Tonight we held ordinary brown wax candles for the parade. 

 Tomorrow at the resurrection service it will be white candles, candles often decorated with ribbons and flowers.  It's a happy time.  Christ is ressurected, the fast is over.

  Good Friday night we often don't eat after the parade.  It will be 11pm before we return home after traipsing along the waterfront, listening to priests chanting and weaving through the crowds.

K has been cleaning intestines and entrails  all day long.  Intestines have nasties which need to be cleaned out. 

Intestines - a long tube through which food travels right through the stomach and out the other end, to put it politely.  

The intestines are wrapped around the spit pole of innards called 'kokoretsi' that are bbqed till crisp and brown.

Godchildren receive their easter presents today.  Godparents play an important role here, especially at Easter.  We have three godsons, all grow-up now,  When they were younger we gave them a pair of shoes or a set of new clothes, a decorated white candle for the evening service, some sweet bread and a chocolate egg.


Candle parade

Good Friday

Great or Good Friday

A day of mourning.  Shops  and offices remain closed until after the morning church service when Christ is taken down from the cross and placed on the flower covered epitafio (bier).  

No cleaning allowed, no sewing, knitting, no playing of music or washing of clothes.  But naturally cooking and washing dishes is permitted, essential in fact.  This is a very strict day of fasting.  Traditional people eat no oil today so it is boiled potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber with vinegar, olives, onions and bread for lunch and dinner.  We have boiled shrimps as well.  A gift from a friend yesterday.  They are tiny but tender.  I snap the heads off and eat the rest soft shell and all.

Church bells toll a slow death knell which carries on all day.   I believe they do stop during siesta now but then continue till the evening service which ends in a candlelight parade along the waterfront.

My sis in law insists that Good Friday is always dull and overcast and often raining, but today there is a north wind blowing and all the red dust from the Sahara has disappeared.  It is sunny and warm.

The island is pulsating.  People everywhere, walking, drinking coffee, city slickers driving their big jeeps with darkened windows, everyone greeting friends with a 'Kronia Polla' and 'Kali Anastasi' a 'Good Resurrection' .

Grandchildren take part in the evening procession.  One is an altar boy and grandaughter carries a basket of rose petals which are scattered along the way.  Each of the three big churches and the church at the Naval base take part in the parade.  Each decorated bier, priests and congregation meet near the main square on the harbour.  One church sails along the waterfront in small boats, disembarking at the square.  

During the day we  visit the churches on Poros to see each epitafio, light a candle and the children scramble under each epitafio three times to bring them good health.  

This is one day we, just us, don't drink alcohol.  
Many people here got out after the parade to drink ouzo and eat kalamari and shrimps.  We go home.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Great Thursday

Thursday of Holy Week

 This is the day we traditionally  dye our red eggs.

Done and dusted
Red eggs boiled, dyed and polished with olive oil. I boiled the eggs last night and our traditional person got into action early this morning to make sure operation red-egg was carried out to his satisfaction . He dyed and polished them all himself.

Tonight is the long service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels.  At the end of the evening women remain to decorate the bier of Christ with flowers, preparing for Good Friday when his effigy is removed from the cross and placed amongst the flowers.  They often go out in groups to see what the women in the other churches have done and admire and gossip.  My daughters and usually a grandaughter or two usually take part in the ritual.  The after midnight run to the other churches with giggly friends and the competition for best decorated bier is always a big draw.

I just got a call from my daughter asking if we have any blossom on our lemon trees.  None this year at all.  It was all destroyed in last weeks hail storm.  They are scrambling round to find enough flowers to cover the big wooden platform.

25th April
Australian and New Zealand Army Corp
Remembrance Day in both countries

Wednesday 24 April 2019


Easter Exodus

Number plates and licences confiscated over the last few months are being given back so everyone can leave the city.  This happens every year and shows how important it is that the average Greek can return to their village or island to take part in the diverse customs and rites  of their place of birth. Most importantly they make their mother happy by connecting with her first of all and then the extended family of which they are an integral part wherever they may live the rest of the year.

They don't go on holiday, they go home.

  Deep family roots.  When someone is asked where they come from here in Greece and they reply 'Athens' the next question will be, 'yes, but where are your roots'.  They will reply, 'well, my father came from this island and my mother from this village' and the 'asker' will say 'ahhhh, so you're a Poroioti' (from Poros) or whatever. 

Thousands leave the big cities for their small village wherever that may be.  There will extra buses, trains and ferries to carry them home and the outward lanes of the national highways are opened up to carry the extra traffic.  There will be one lane for incoming cars at the toll booths and 7 or 8 for departing cars, and vice versa as the week ends.

The church is an important part of their lives whether they attend church or not in the city.  Every evening service this week will have crowds at the churches, coming and going, lighting candles, greeting long lost friends and family and even listening to the priest and taking part of the service.

Holy Thursday today. More to come

Great Wednesday

Wednesday of Holy (Great) week

Easter cookie day - the day of the koulourakia

Overcast today with short rain showers.  The air is thick with dust from the Sahara desert.  Rain turns it into a thin layer of red mud which sticks to everything.  The dust in the air turns eyes red and makes allergies worse.  So much for cleaning.  

There was no cleaning today.  We went for our big easter shop, picking up essential alcohol and all the ingredients for the easter koulourakia (cookies/biscuits).  We picked up the grandkids and brought them up to help with the preparations.  The boys bundled up prunings from the grapevine and the jasmine ready to be burnt on the BBQ.  Nels made the dough for the easter cookies and then they all rolled and shaped and made a mound of koulourakia.

Hopefully they were having fun as well

The kids don't fast though two of them are not eating meat this week.  They sampled the koulourakia and ate a pile of them too.  So did I.  No-one else is allowed to try them till Easter Sunday, after the fast is broken,  They are made with eggs, butter and milk and also ouzo and orange zest for aroma.  Darn good batch!

Every year we make the same recipe and every year it turns out a little different.  Nels and the rest of the kids excelled themselves this time!

Tuesday 23 April 2019

More on Tuesday

23rd April we would normally be celebrating St George

When it falls during Lent we celebrate it instead on the Monday after Easter Sunday.  This year we'll be having two days back to back of eating and drinking.

St George is a very  popular saint, the slayer of dragons and Patron Saint of England.  Any one named after him in Greece, Georgios or Georgia has their name day, on the 29th April this year.  Our tall grandson is Georgios and so are many of friends and  other relatives.  At least the feasting will not be taking place at our house.

Two of my NZ pumpkin seeds have sprouted!!  Yeh
And the bad news.  Our washing machine has broken down.
My washing machine fixer-upper thinks it's not too serious and he can keep it working at least till after easter.  So that's the bad with a little sunshine.

A 'Great Week' cake, orange, ginger and cocoa
No eggs, milk or butter.  

Monday 22 April 2019

Great Tuesday

Great Tuesday
Another day of the same
Except, I have men with dirty shoes trailing fine metal dust from a welding torch through the house.  And my oven, stove, cooking facilities are in pieces, bringing down the trip switch every few minutes and leaving me power/wifi-less  mid sentence while trying to  write a blog post.

Not my space any more

Yesterday K decided to exchange my perfectly good oven for another he had 'overhauled'.  Heavens to Betsy I say with a big sigh.  Now.  Easter week?  
When something's not broken you don't fix it.  Well, now this is broken and the old one which worked perfectly has been taken off to recycling.  There is a bright side.  At least the old stove is not lounging around in the back garden along with an old bicycle, broken down rotary  digger, washing machine, and lawn mower.  We don't have a lawn to mow.

The welding is being done on the turning mechanism of the big brick BBQ.  As we'll be spit roasting a lamb on one spit-pole with another spit-pole of innards and another with pieces of pork this easter Sunday it has been decided we 'need' (urgently) a central spit-turning system for even and effortless cooking.

Jesus Wept.

And God Bless All of You Too

PS oven and hot plates are finally working

Great Monday

Great Week or Holy Week
Easter is the most important celebration of the year.  Second I would put 15th August (marking the 'falling asleep' of the Virgin Mary) and Christmas a lowly third, or even fourth.  New Years is celebrated more than Christmas and St Basil brings the children their presents on 1st January not St Nick on 25th December.

Great Monday

So begins 'Great week' leading up to Easter Sunday in the greek orthodox church.
There is a church service every evening relating to the last week in Christ's life

Most housewives are spring cleaning this week.  Me too, a little.  All this in preparation for the Sunday easter feasting and the visit of my nephew and neice coming over for 'The Greek Easter Experience'

In our old house, when we were younger and more eager we would whitewash the walls and the edges of the road around the house.  I don't think many people whitewash any more though municipal workers usually whitewash all the flights of steps in the town.

Dyed easter eggs from years gone by
2011 and 2013

The yolks go hard after a few years and resemble a yellow globe of some precious stone

Sunday 21 April 2019

Palm Sunday

Sunday 21st April
Palm Sunday in Greece

The second of the fish eating days during Lent.  We're allowed to eat fish today, and drink wine. 

I think it was at the church in the small Cretan village where we lived for a while that we were given fried fish after the church service.  Probably with a few glasses of wine as well.  Our fellow Cretan villagers followed the traditions strictly, back in the 80s, but they knew how to enjoy life.  We lived in the tiny  village of Mournies for only a year and will never forget the good times. There were two big tavernas and a pitta bread factory.  OMG thosed fresh pittes.  They didn't need cooking.  We lined up to get them hot as they came out of the ovens.

Palm Sunday.  Kyriaki Ton Vayion
Sunday of the Vayion
 as it is known here.  The churches and icons are decorated with this plant whose name in english I have yet to discover.  

This is the bunch of Vayion that my daughter was handed after church this morning

My space.
watching a knitting and crochet podcast

Saturday 20 April 2019


Saturday 20th April
Greek Orthodox church
The Day of Lazarus

The day before Palm Sunday when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.

Kids are on holiday since Friday.   The school children went to  church on Friday morning and most of them took communion.  The older ones then took off to enjoy their 2 weeks of freedom. The younger kids had to return to finish their day's lesson.

Two years ago the younger girls made paper Lazarus dolls.  They're a bit too old for that now.  

Our windowsill
Some spring colour
Nothing to do with Lazarus

Thursday 18 April 2019


I got my Hail and Thunder post, or a copy of it.  Thanks to my cousin J down in New Zealand who sent me an email which included the blog post.  Probably quite a few of you read it and thanks to those who commented.  The comments were lost as well but I did read them before they vanished.

April storms.
Unexpected.  Fierce.  Just like the one that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald, except that was in November

'The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call 'gitche gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy....'

A digression.  I like the song and I like Gordon Lightfoot

Back here on a little Greek island where the sun shines and the people dance, sing and munch on greek salad and moussaka, April has been 'astatos', 'fickle' says google translate.  If fickle means wet and soggy then fickle is the word.     We have had mornings of brilliant sunshine and afternoons of rain, hail and thunderbolts straight from  Zeus up there in his lair on Mount Olympus.  Rain, hail and thunder.  The last storm was so violent it shredded the garden and flooded the spare room. 

At the first rumble we unplug the router and usually the fridge as well.   Violent lightning flashes and overhead thunder claps  have blacked us out, cut off phones and shaken our nerves

The last storm brought the clatter of hail, big balls of ice which covered the ground and turned vegetables and grape vines into tatters.  A few kilometres away down  in the harbour they had only a little rain.  Isolated thunderstorms with periods of sunshine.  Today it was their turn for the hail and  not even a drop of rain up here in the hills.

My hydrangeas were thick, green leafy bushes.  Now the leaves are in tatters and the flower buds damaged but not completely destroyed.  I'm waiting to see what a few days of sunshine might do to them.  No more storms are forecast for the rest of the week.  But who believes the forecasters?

My NZ 'real' pumpkin seeds haven't sprouted.  I planted some straight into the garden and others in more sheltered pots.  They have probably rotted in the soggy soil.  Today I planted three more seeds in a small pot and placed them on the kitchen window sill.  If they don't sprout then I have three seeds left to try again when the first heatwave hits us.

The grapevine is hanging it's head(s), the peppers, aubergines and zucchini looking very sad, but, I'm hoping mother nature will bring them back to life.  My nasturtiums look limp and downtrodden, no longer the vibrant picture of green and orange that made me so happy.   I try to keep the nasturtiums alive and green as long as possible in the summer heat.  

Nasturtiums before and after

Downtown Athens after a recent hail storm

The Acropolis got a direct lightning hit yesterday. Four people, tourists  and guards were injured, and the ticket office destroyed.

Wednesday 17 April 2019


What do you do when you accidently delete a blog post?
Damn damn damn..and worse
But who wanted to read about hail storms and downtrodden nasturtiums anyway.

Damn. On the big old desk computer there's a key you press and you can retrieve the lost page. Not on this newfangled gadget though.

I'm bloody annoyed. All I wanted to do was change 'eyeballs and fish heads' to a more delikat 'mousaka and greek salad'. Didn't want to repeat myself. Well that taught me a lesson. Publish it  and forget it. 

Here are a few photos to fill out the page

T shirt for a granddaughter' s birthday

Poros harbour from the car ferry

Looking up towards the clock tower and passing awfully close to the cruise boat. From the car ferry

A carpet of hail stones under the lemon trees

Monday 15 April 2019

Ghostly Goings-on

A friendly ghost?

We turned on the aircon the other day to 'heat'.  It wasn't cold enough to light a fire.  Raining, once again, chilly and damp.  Rain and sunshine.  Rain and sunshine. 

Anyway, we turned on the aircon.  When lunch time came around I turned it off because it blows right on to the dining table.  Pushed the control to the other end of the table.  We sat down to eat our fish heads and sheep's eyeballs, slurping away as one does when eating these delicaces.  

All of a sudden the aircon came to life.  All by itself.
We looked at each other.  No one had bumped the control with an errant elbow or a greasy finger, it was well out of reach.

The ghost!  That's the first appearance for a while.  K swears that the ghost  turned his electric blanket on the other night but I'm more inclined to think that a mere mortal forgot to turn it off that morning.

There was a wierd incident one night.  I was reading in bed, alone, when I felt a series of pats on my back.  Freaked me out of course but I'm just hoping it was a muscle spasm.  Nothing like that has ever happened before.  We've never actually felt the presence of a ghost.  There are no cold spots in the rooms or icy draughts which pass over giving you serious shivers.

Do we have another ghost?  Wait for the next installment.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Happy Windsday

What is that expression which Pooh and Piglet use?  
The wind is gusting gusterlly......
blustering blustelly...?

The wind was 'blowing'

Perfect weather for windsurfing.
My son-in-law put on his wet suit

And scudded across the bay

Saturday 6 April 2019

Champions All

Grandkids again.  

They excelled in the latest rowing games on Poros.  The island kids beat teams from Piraeus and other cities with far more experience, and equipment,  Our rowers had to row out to the starting line, run the race, row back into the Navy base and quickly hand over their skiff to the next competitor who literally had ten minutes to make it out to the start line before their  race began.

As usual we had a front row seat.  It was a sunny day but quite windy and some of the races were shortened from 1 kilometre to 600 metres because of the swell

Grandson Jamie pulls for the finishing line

Lydia rows out, around behind the yachts anchored in the strait, on her trek to the starting line 

Nels gets yet another first.  Her medal was presented to her by our own local Olympic Silver Medal rower.  Rowing is a popular acitivity on the island for school kids

A huge beaming smile from Jamie, on the stand to receive his bronze medal

First for Lydia as well.  She had an exceptional race coming up from third near the finish line to overtake the other two and win the event

No show here is complete without the pig
Poor thing.  He was chopped up to provide a 'meze' for fathers and  friends toasting their children's achievements 

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Fruit and Vege

Spring bounty from our garden and those around us

The garden as it was, full of clover/oxalis

A clean garden!  Our garden looks just like Vaso's.  Her son came and pulled out all the weeds, got rid of the rubbish, re-pruned the roses, sprayed them, cleaned all the pots and actually....wait for it, swept the soil with a broom!!!  I can't believe a garden can be so smooth and clean.  The area around the swing was soon shaved and swept just like the rest of it,

We have already planted pumpkin plants, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.  Several different types of zucchini, unknown until they have something to harvest.  The garden man at the farmer's market kept on pressing on us 'one more plant', a long cucumber and a short cucumber, a round pepper, a pointed pepper and a hot pepper.  His mother, sat like a huge sloth behind the portable till. leant back to make sure we had some of those big purple aubergines and the long skinny ones as well, two sorts of basil, and had him throw in a flower, some sort of marigold I think, for being such good customers.  

Thanks to daughter, Elli, all of these have been planted, here and there, even in the compost.  They have been watered and at the moment seem to be thriving.    Hmm, no tomatoes though.  Our crop last year was miserable.  The pumpkin seeds have been flown over and hand delivered from family in NZ.  Maybe this year we'll have some real pumpkins instead of watery squash.

Cross your fingers and spit three times.

The last of the lettuces were rescued from their skywards journey, blanched and frozen, all ready to be used in the easter-offal soup.

Tomorrow will be the turn of the last of the spinach and other chard like vegetable.  Likewise they will be blanched and frozen to be used in summer pies.

The grape vine is covered in green leaves and bunches of grapes have formed already.  Some of them were thinned out by Vaso's son who looks after her vineyard, and our two vines

Green tomatoes bought at the farmer's market.  I got carried away. 2 kilos is a lot of green tomatoes.  I tried fried green tomatoes today.  Didn't like them.  I suppose I''ll have to make chutney in the next few days

Vaso is harvesting the last of her oranges and mandarines.  The case underneath is full of
mandarines and it was overflowing.  Thank goodness we've managed to give away a few kilos of those.  Vaso isn't the only one who has given us citrus fruit lately.  A  friend on the car ferry  came over to chat and shoved a 10 kilo bag into the car and another 5 kilos of citrus was presented to us by K's cousin who sells them at the local market.

Marmelade?  Again?  We're still ploughing through the grapefruit marmelade made from this winter's crop.