Wednesday 29 April 2020

Aged Wine

I decided it was finally time to open the oldest bottle of red wine.
I think it is 5 years old but could be a lot more.

This old bottle had wax sealing the cork.  I'm not sure where it came from.  Could be from my son-in-law.  The last bottle of K's red wine which we opened, after 10 years, was very drinkable.
This is not Ks wine but a bottle given to us by someone, someone close I should think, looking at that hand waxed bottle

Here goes the sommelier, dressed in his best blue overall

A nicely stained cork

And an undrinkable glass of red wine

The finest vinegar.
And that's where it went, into the big vinegar barrel

Monday 27 April 2020

Lunch in the Sun

A grilled fish on the balcony day 

Grilled fish on the balcony under the shade of the now leafing grapevine
K grilled more than we could eat at one meal so we can have it as an accompaniment with spinach tomorrow and more salad the next day.

The fish is gutted but neither scaled nor filleted.  This way it doesn't stick to the grill and naturally traditional people insist that there is more flavour in the fish if it is left in its original state.  That means that hands must be used when eating and it gets messy and I always end up with oil spots somewhere on my shirt. 
The fish are easy to clean on the plate, just messy.  The side bones come away, the scales and skin slide off and the backbone is removed in one swoop.  We end up with a big bowl of heads, tails, scales and skin for the cats.

The fish is then dressed with 'salamoura',  oil and lemon juice, a little mustard and oregano.  The dressing is shaken up in a little jar which you will notice sitting on the table at the top of the photo.

We ate the fish with the dressing, a greek potato salad and a lettuce and rocket salad, all dressed with more lemon juice and olive oil. 

Red wine for me, white for the traditional boy. Red wine goes well with white fish, especially a rough, dry local wine which has not travelled more than half a kilometre.

The grapevine is sprouting all over the place which I am happy to see.  Vaso's son pruned it this year and so severely I wondered if it would produce any grape leaves at all.  I have trimmed all the ends of the grape vines which are galloping away and swaying over next doors road.  Now I must collect a bowl of young grape leaves to make stuffed vine leaves.  This before K comes along to spray some sort of blue dust all over it to stop the rot.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Do the Hokey Pokey

Or in this case, 'make' the hokey pokey

Its ANZAC day downunder.  Remembrance day in Australia and New Zealand. 2020, No dawn services,  No gatherings  in Crete or in Athens at the Commonwealth War cemetaries.

We are remembering our homelands here with hokey pokey, New Zealand's unique toffee/honeycomb icecream and Anzac biscuits, supposedly sent overseas to Anzac soldiers during the world wars.

ANZAC Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

Hokey pokey 
Made from baking soda, sugar and golden syrup, or in this case, runny honey
Well done kids
This is added to vanilla icecream to produce a soft icecream with big sweet crunchy bits in it.  Heaven

My share is handed over the gate

They ate theirs with icecream
I just crunched it down 'straight'

Anzac biscuits

There are no eggs or milk used in the recipe and the rest of the ingredients  make for a long-life biscuit.  They would need to be unspoilable.  The sea journey to Europe probably took about three months and by the time they actually reached the soldiers it might have been a few more weeks.  The biscuits would have been a welcome change from hard tack and bully beef.

The poppies I crocheted for last years ANZAC remembrance day

Thursday 23 April 2020

23 April

St George's Day.

My grandson's name day and also the name day of little Georgia, way downunder in Australia. 

I know you both had happy family days

St George the dragon slayer, patron saint of England

Agios Georgios - a great martyr in the Orthodox church

Another fiesta comes and goes. 

Grandchildren and their mother

Finding ways to pass the time
Who managed to stay  the longest?  Wasn't the one in pink

Had some pots of basil delivered today. They will be transplanted into big clay pots 

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Back to the New Routine

On a warm day we sit on the balcony

and eat leftover lamb and tripe soup

Today we ate the last of the easter lamb, in a pie
Thank goodness that is over and done with

We are inside today.  It's blustering blustily

Our permit, in greek
We have to fill out one of these every time we leave the grounds
A number 2 for shopping or a number 6 to go up to the bins and throw out the rubbish.
I get most of my exercise on the treadmill or in the garden pulling weeds

We can also send an sms and ask for permission for a walk or gathering of essential supplies.  

Today was rubbish bin day
A lovely windy walk.  All the cobwebs were blown away
There are finally a few poppies out on the verges.  Not many yet.  No-one is strimming so roadsides and fields are waist high in swaying grasses and some colourful weeds

Behind that abandoned car I espied half a dozen artichokes
Someone has been picking them because there are a lot of dry stalks as well

An ice plant
Next time I go up I shall take a cutting and plant it near the nasturtiums
This plant can be invasive, they say.  I hope so.  I'll plant it on one of our little garden walls where the clover is another invader

Elderly neighbour Vaso has been hard at work
She doesn't need a strimmer.  Bent double she  pulled the knee high grasses by hand and laid them down in rows under the orange trees

On the left you can just see the patch she has cleared and this lot of grasses will be pulled and laid out when I next go up the road with the rubbish

Monday 20 April 2020


When we are finally let out of quarantine someone had better give us a medal.  Our family, three families, were amongst the few who stayed at home on Sunday.  I know it is the biggest celebration of the year but supposedly we are in lockdown.  Few others around here stayed at their own home despite the 300euro fine for being out and about.  We heard very loud music coming from across the valley and somewhere over the hills until the wee hours.  Even our elderly neighbour had a small gathering though they were her daughter's friends, not hers.  News of the islands parties are slowly filtering in via facebook and the telephone.  

Our two daughters and 5 grandchildren all live on the island, minutes away by car.  Each family had their easter feast in their own home.  This is the first time in 45 odd years that I haven't taken a photo of our lamb turning on a spit.  

My very traditional greek husband makes this years sign of the cross three times over our doorway with the Holy flame.
At midnight in our neck of the woods all the houses around us, across the valley, were brightly lit up, as was ours.  Someone had gone to the little church down the hill and rang the bell for almost 10 minutes and the sound of firecrackers could just be heard from  the beach below.

In our old neighbourhood our daughter and family went out into the street at midnight to wish everyone 'Christ is Risen'.

Next morning there was no lamb on the spit but we did have a traditional skewer of kokoretsi, all the insides of the lamb wound up with the metres of carefully cleaned intestines

There was lamb on the menu but it went into the oven with a pile of potatoes.  As usually is the way in our house there was far too much food for two.  The cats and ourselves will be eating leftovers for days to come.

In amongst those pieces of lamb was half a sheep's head with one eye and the teeth from the right side only, the tongue but no brains

Down on the roof of our old house our daughter and family also had a skewer of kokoretsi and a mixed grill

Meanwhile round the bay the other third of our family also had a mixed grill out on the balcony

We shared videos and photographs all day long with our girls and friends who usually eat with us on Easter Sunday.  Through social networking we weren't completely alone which made us feel a little more part of an easter crowd but also rather sad.

There was dancing and lots of laughter, but only through cyber space

K is vowing to put a lamb on the spit on that big BBQ as soon as the restrictions are lifted.  I'd be quite happy if they all just came around for coffee

Waiting for tidbits

Saturday 18 April 2020


Still preparing for easter as though we were expecting a few dozen visitors.

Late last night I kneaded enough sourdough for two loaves of Easter bread and those went into the oven this morning.  One loaf went off to another part of the family.

  Offal was chopped and a mountain of lettuce washed for the easter soup, magieritsa, which we will eat as usual after the midnight service, to be watched on television this year.

K was busy preparing a long skewer of offal to go onto the BBQ tomorrow.  Potatoes were peeled, the lamb marinated and everything went into the fridge so hopefully we will have an easier day tomorrow.  Just the two of us

The Holy Light arrived in Athens from Jerusalem at 6pm on a special Aegean airlines flight.  Usually the light is sped off to every island, village, and city in the country and is carried to every household, almost, in the country.  Just before midnight the priest lights his candle inside the church and the flame is passed to the crowds outside, from candle to candle .  This year the light went to a church in Athens where it will be kept burning, until it can safely travel from hand to hand all over Greece .

My daughter and her husband brought us up a Holy Light from a Monastery on the mainland.  

We lit our candles, a couple of lanterns and  festive lambathas from years gone by

And our special easter candles made by my youngest grandaughter.
With these we will make the cross over the door.

We lit candles in 2 lanterns and then called to our one and only close neighbour to come down and take the light up to their house and a phone call to another neighbour brought him down to also take the Holy Light home.  

Most homes this year will have to make do with a candle lit by a cigarette lighter.

Friday 17 April 2020

Good Orthodox Friday

The strictest day of fasting in the Orthodox calendar.
K peels endless small, boiled shrimp.  He eats a handful at lunchtime with boiled potatoes, tomatoes, olives and a slice of bread.

Even olive oil is off the menu today and this is one day that he drinks no alcohol.

A very quiet day.  We are well away from the big churches in town so we did not hear the slow toll of the bells all day long, in mourning for Christ.  There was no candlelight parade through town this evening, no church service in the central square.

We  went out today in the car for the first time in a month.  We dumped a car load of garden rubbish and then did a quick tour of town, with ID cards and permit papers on hand.  There were people out and about, especially up where we live and groups walking along the harbour road.  All getting their daily exercise?  There were no police checks.

From tomorrow at 9pm till Easter Monday at 9pm all fines are doubled for non essential travel to discourage groups of easter revellers. 

Tomorrow is Saturday of Easter.  There will be no gatherings to receive the holy light at midnight and we will eat our tripe soup alone.  And so begins a very quiet Orthodox easter weekend

Thursday 16 April 2020

Holy Thursday

Traditionally the day to dye red eggs.
K boiled dozens of the buggers yesterday and very early this morning he was up dipping them into the saucepan with the dye mix and then polishing each egg with olive oil

Now most of them are safely stashed away into sturdy boxes to be handed out to friends and neighbours, and family.  Anyone in fact who has slipped something over the garden gate this last month.

Yesterday he was busy rolling out over 100 koulourakia, the traditional easter biscuits.  These have also been put into takeaway containers. 

Thank goodness K has decided that only a traditional greek really knows how to make these traditional easter goodies, which I have made for over 35 years.  I agreed whole heartedly with him.  He can traditionally do it just the same way his traditional greek Mama used to, with my traditional foreign blessing

The first box went to elderly neighbour Vaso and her daughter and son in law who are sharing her isolation, and cramping her style.  The second box went out to our wine and raki essential service provider.

These simple, elegantly decorated white candles are called lambathas and will be lit just before Saturday midnight when 'Christ is Risen'.  My grandaughter Luli crafted these candles for us and hung them on the garden gate on a recent visit.  A visit on her birthday.  We couldn't go to her so she came to us and stood on the other side of the road.  We exchanged air kisses and birthday sweets.  

Holy Thursday in the Orthodox church
The evening service is very long with the reading of the 12 Gospels. 
This year K is watching the service on TV, conducted from Istanbul by the Archbishop of Constantinople and Patriarch of the Greek church 

Wednesday 15 April 2020

The Carnival is Not Over

I thought there would be a lull in our bartering way of life with all of us in isolation but our rural way of living goes on.

We got a care package from elderly neighbour Vaso's son before he left to isolate in Athens with the inlaws.      Plastic water bottles full of their last years wine, a dozen of their fresh chook eggs and a big bucket of oranges. 

Since then we've had an endless variety of goods coming in over the garden gate, besides our grocery shopping brought by our girls.

A bag of fresh fish thanks to a fisherman in the family.  Only professional fishermen are allowed out now.  A deputy Mayor in Crete who went with friends on an, amateur, fishing  trip  got fined 5,000 euros.

 Yesterday a friend down the road brought us a large bowl of eggs, there must have been 20.  In the afternoon Vaso's daughter brought us another 20 eggs.  All these eggs would normally be kept to be dyed red for the easter table.  Some of them will be for sure but the rest we passed on to our daughters who come up with shopping and medecine.

We passed on a bag of fresh fish and another loaf of bread to one of the egg providers.

Another bag of citrus fruit was passed over the gate a few days ago.  Vaso's mandarines.  They are spot on, big, sweet and juicy.

A long piece of piping was retrieved from the recycling bin and that slid through as well.  Our old bbq, made from a hot water cylinder has, after 10 years or more, rusted underneath so there is a new one being built.  Gives K something to chew on during the day instead of chewing me out.

More eggs than you could shake a fist at arrived today.  Chooks everywhere are laying overtime.  Tomorrow is dye-red-egg day

But the most unexpected and wonderful gift was a pot of icecream.  This is a present from one of the girls but I have to keep it for after the Easter lamb on Sunday.  

Yah hoooooo

Monday 13 April 2020

Sandy Sensations

My neice, the lucky one who is eating for two, takes daily walks along this long sandy beach.  Papamoa Beach, the beach of my childhood.  Miles and miles of golden sand and surf.  We used to have a little old bach (holiday home) here when I was growing up, built out of an old garage, right on the beach.   Now behind the sand dunes is a huge city sprawling over  acres and acres of  what , in my childhood, was farmland with herds of happy cows.  That old garage is worth millions, prime beachfront real-estate.  Pity it is not in the family anymore.

Someone has been inspired during his isolation to create these masterpieces in the sand.

These are just two of his creations
NZers (kiwis) have great imagination
Another blogger regularly posts photos of the murals which brighten up buildings all over the country, toilet blocks, old shops, warehouses.  Like these sand sculptures the murals bring a smile, a little bit of cheer

This one says
Kia Kaha
Maori words which I learnt after the huge earthquake down in the southern city of Christchurch in 2010 and then the massacre at a mosque in the same city in 2019, just one year ago.

Kai Kaha means stay strong 

Thanks Niki for taking these photos of your little patch of  loveliness

Sunday 12 April 2020

Palm Sunday

It's Palm Sunday here in Greece, Easter Sunday for the rest of you.  Today we are allowed to eat fish, so that's what we've got on the BBQ.    We'll be eating our roast lamb next weekend.

It was a sunny day and half a dozen of our near and distant neighbours were burning olive prunings and clearing the land.  

This fire was at a distance but our close nieghbour, 84 year old Vaso was burning branches right next door.  We stepped out for our first outdoor coffee this spring to be suddenly covered in smoke.  No-one yells at Vaso, she's a toughy, so we retreated indoors till she finished

We had BBQed fish, thanks to the nets of our son-in-law and grandaughters and ate al fresco

Meanwhile on all our social media pages hotcross bun photos were frontline news.  These were made by my neice in NZ, the one who is eating for two.  Lucky she is also very ahtletic.

Friday 10 April 2020

Early Easter Lamb

This photo is an the easter lamb we were given before the crisis.  It has been sitting in our freezer for 2 months now.  K was very happy to be given this 12 kilo lamb for a job he did for a friend and was planning the easter feast around it.  

How times have changed.  The lamb will remain in the freezer till better times.

Today is Good Friday for most of you.  For the Greek Orthodox this coming week is Holy Week and Easter Sunday is  a week later than yours, on April 19th. 

The government had already warned that there would be strict travel regulations brought into force to stop anyone returning to their village or island for the easter holiday, and spreading infection.  All main roads, side roads and highways and byways have been closed off with police inspection of every car on the road.

If you have papers to prove you are a permanent resident you can travel but will not be allowed to return till the crisis is over.  Residents on many islands have pleaded with city dwellers not to return.  Incoming travellers are not welcome

Each car must have no more than 2 people, the driver and a passenger, all carrying the correct papers.  Anyone caught  will be fined 300 euros, the car will have number plates removed and they will be sent back to where they came from.  Road blocks are on a 24 hour basis so you can't escape at 2am or 4am or whenever you think the cops have gone for lunch or dinner.

Similar checks are being made at airports, harbours, bus and train stations.

Yesterday I stepped, 5 steps, outside our front gate to fill the wild cat bowl with fish bones and I had neither my permit paper to go for a walk or my ID card.  Theoretically I could have been fined 150euros for the lack of papers and 75 for no ID. 

A lot of people here still consider it a joke to outwit the police but the police can appear out of nowhere and they do make checks.  We have no cases anywhere near us, not on the island or on the mainland opposite and I would like to keep it that way.  The islands at least, closed communities, should be virus free but some of them aren't, just a handful, because people returning have unwittingly carried the infection and haven't stuck to the 14 day home isolation. 

Next week we will be baking easter cookies and dyeing red eggs, listening to the church services on TV and my traditional person will light a candle and probably waft a bit of incense around.  I'll be sitting here at my desk writing about it.

Today I should have been making hotcross buns along with my NZ family but I didn't get around to it.  The photos they've posted on Instagram and Whatsap are scrummy.  If I want the house to smell like I remember easter should then I had better get moving

Thursday 9 April 2020

Marmelade Rock Cakes

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Rock cakes are an economic treat, probably from the war years. Spoonfuls of stiff dough dumped on a baking tray which ressemble little piles of rocks when baked.  They usually have raisins in them.  Raisins are not a staple in this house, though we do use them in stuffed tomatoes and a cake we make when we have lost something and are thanking the saint that found it.  

These have no raisins but are a quick and easy way to get rid of some of that jam that has been standing on the shelves and no-one wants to eat.  I used orange marmelade  because we don't have anymore horrid quince jam or fig jam or grapefruit jam, thank you powers on high.

Here in Greece all jam is called marmelade.  Take your pick.  Marmelade or jam.

2 cups of flour and 2 tsps of baking powder
2 cups of self raising flour
1/2 cup of sugar
100 grams of butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of jam
1 egg
enough milk to make a stiff dough

Put flour and baking powder in a bowl.  Add the butter.  Rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips until it is the texture of bread crumbs.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and the marmelade.  Break in the egg and add about half a cup of milk.

Mix till you get a very stiff dough.  Put teaspoonfuls onto a baking tray and bake about 15 minutes at 180oC.  Till golden brown.

My mix wasn't stiff enough to make piles of rocks.  Mine spread into biscuits.  Fine by me.  Gosh they do taste nice!!!

Bad times need fun things to make you happy!