Sunday 31 May 2020

3 Months

Sunday service.  A 3 month memorial for our cousin who was buried on the day lockdown started.  He had no 9 day memorial, no 40 days memorial but some of his friends did arrange a blessing over the grave.   Early this morning I dressed all in black and showed my face at the morning service

I didn't go inside to light a candle.  K went inside and lit one for me and was then told to leave, and stand outside.  I don't know how many were allowed to sit inside but apparently it was full.  There is also a second floor, the women's space, where you can go and observe from above, women and children only.

We all sat across the road.

The priest came to the door to give communion.  I wonder if he used the same spoon for every person

The 'before' photo

There were chairs set outside, at a 2 metre distance.  We sat that way for about 5 minutes and then moved the chairs a bit closer so we could talk to each other over the priest and chanters who came through loud and clear from an outside speaker.  

Every so often K would jump up and tell us all  to stand up and stop chatting.  Grumble grumble grumble.  Not that the immediate family would dare to grumble but we all secretly smiled when someone else did.  

You're supposed to stand for the Lords Prayer and at a few other points in the service which no-one but him was taking any notice of

Social distancing soon went haywire but mind you it was mainly our large family 'bubble' that was together across the road

The 'offering' basket was brought outside too.

The basket is taken to the back of the church where the money is very noisily counted with rattling coins, chanters and the droning of the priest all competing to be heard. 

After a 20 minute sermon about 'likeness' to god and 'sameness' to god and Saint Konstantine and the beginnings of the Orthodox religion and something about Adam and Eve I started drifting off.  The actual memorial was a 5 minute address right at the end and then we all went off for coffee, liqueur and hard biscuits.  Any idea of social distancing had been forgotten by then and a good time was had by all. 

RIP cousin Kyriakos. He died too young but isn't forgotten

Saturday 30 May 2020

Virus? What virus?

Saturday morning on the waterfront.   Our first coffee at the  harbour cafe  in 3 months. A double cappuccino (latte) for me, a  double  greek coffee for the traditional person at my side.

 The day goes on, the sun rises higher. Awnings come down as the shade moves around.

It's like living in a movie. I watch the couples walking by in short sleeves, pushing their babes, elderly gents in long sleeves  taking their daily volta (stroll)  beside the sea, in groups,  taxi boats bobbing in the breeze, ouzo on the table, passersby who stop and chat, the blue blue sky, not an aeroplane in sight, short sleeves, long sleeves, bright colours,  so many women in black.  

Our now white haired ex-mayor cafe-hopping on his bicycle, spiced beef and red wine, foreign faces, Athenian Greeks, scooters, and more scooters, white houses, ceramic tiled roofs, climbing up the fast browning hills opposite, blue and white greek flags blowing from the boats,  the cenitaph , the clock tower , alongside a tattered the red and white flag of olympiakos and the green of  pananthiakos.

 Bleached blondes with black roots, the car ferry pulling out on it's short journey to the island, weaving in and out of a water taxi, a fast boat speeding to an anchored yacht, both leaving wakes of blue and white ripples, cats long and lean, still shedding their thick winter fur, slinking between the tables sniffing for a crumb.

 Voices, voices insisting, educating, disagreeing, greek voices, long fishy tales, philosophy,   glasses empty, glasses full, glasses refilled,  long shorts, short longs, an overloaded motorbike carrying a sack of flour and a big box of wine, another motorbike right behind carrying a family of three, none with a helmet.

 A  bouzouki strumming a soulful greek love song, the priest scurrying on his way to a blessing, greek voices, greek smells, greek sights. Cafe tables full of glasses half empty, ashtrays, forks, dried up sauces, paper napkins, fluttering in the road, ends of loaves, corners, crumbs.

 Sun rising over the Modi, a large rock in the sea shaped like a lion, sunset over the 'Sleeping Lady', always the sound of that bouzouki, someone crooning , sounds middle eastern, but it's greek, toe tapping bouzouki, inspired steps, dancing, singing, finger tapping, virus? What virus. This is real life. Every day 

Thursday 28 May 2020


K revamped our bbq while he was on lockdown
The brickwork along the front of the BBQ and the wood oven was getting black and greasy.  One of the sons-in-law had put marble along the front of his own BBQ so K was inspired to do the same, instead of lining the bricks each time with silver paper.  Marble is cheap here and we have  some big pieces down at the bottom of the garden, given to us when we moved in 12 years ago, to make a working bench in the outdoor kitchen.  It isn't all rubbish at the end of the garden.   Now and again, the 'treasures' do come in handy though I can't see the rusty bicycles and rotten planks being useful at any time. 

These extra pieces of marble came from across on the mainland at the marble cutting place. 
15 euros

The front of the woodfired oven is now nice and clean

Nice shiny marble along the front of the BBQ
That piece of metal is somehow used as a funnel to  get the coals fired up

A clean white shiny BBQ .  15 euros for the marble and 20 for the bits and pieces used to put it in
K also applied a couple of coats of some sort of sealer

I wonder how long that will remain a pristine white

Monday 25 May 2020

A Morning Coffee


Cafeterias and eating places opened today and so did all the greek islands.

Greeks can come and go now as they please.  The tourist season officially begins on June 15.   International flights to tourist destinations within the country begin on July 1.

Perfect weather for an outdoor coffee
We weren't going out today but after a phone call from family we scrambled to find going-out-in-public clothes and went down to the green chairs

A big hot capuccino, good company and more than a few laughs
Just like the olden days......except that there were no yachts tied up

........ not even a rowboat
Only the car ferry was moving across the straits down this end of the harbour

Down in the centre of town the water taxis were out lined up, now each taking 15 passengers instead of the 2 they were allowed last week

Most of the cafes were doing a slow trade today.  
It is still just locals so there was little traffic and just a few out walking.  I imagine this will slowly change

Tonight churches will hold the Easter resurrection service and  churches will be open for all parishioners. This is the  service  they held back in April without an audience.  Christ was risen but only on their TV sets.

Saturday 23 May 2020

More Stuff

Back to the days of old

First moussaka of the year with  early  aubergine and zucchini.

Our small farmers market opened last week and we bought our first summer vegetables. Our own zucchini plants have started producing but the first 'fruit' is still on the small side

The mint survived the heat wave and is flourishing

The basil is growing, surrounded by more mint in the garden

Soon the hydrangea will be in full flower

Thursday 21 May 2020


Fiesta time again

20 May
St Lydia

21 May
Saints Konstantinos and Eleni

These are big name days in our family.  Almost a dozen members of the extended family are celebrating, covid-style.

Churches began holding services again last Sunday so there were liturgies last night and this morning.  We didn't go and neither did my sister-in-law who would usually take some Holy bread and sweets because she is one of those celebrating.

Our house, which in years gone by, was been busier than Kings Cross with half of the island staggering through our living room, is quiet.  Not silent but incredibly quiet.  Even the music is low.  K who is number one celebrator, in all meanings of the word, has just three of his closest friends sitting round the table, at reasonable distances, drinking a glass or two of wine and discussing, debating and deliberating.

Even at this late-ish hour K's phone rings every few minutes as friends, relatives, acquaintances, business associates, colleagues, neighbours and friends of neighbours, relatives and business associates phone to wish him 'kronia polla'.  He must have had hundreds of calls today.    This is his hour.

He was up early this morning preparing a leg of lamb for the oven, a great pan of meat and potatoes with lots of lemon and garlic.  I baked some bread, cut up tomatoes for a greek salad, put out a dish of feta cheese and all is well with the world again.

Tuesday 19 May 2020


So whats up

Your money or your life 
First day out at the supermarket

We were the only ones wearing masks, except the workers. It was hot and sweaty and my glasses kept slipping off.

Shopping once a month sounds like a plan! In the cool very early morning. No heat, no humans

Monday 18 May 2020

Chickpeas and Beans

Lunch is chickpea (revithia) soup.  But wait, it is not the simple soup that K's Mama made to warm him in the Poros winter simply cooked with lots of olive oil, lemon juice and a thickening of flour and water.  No, this is a soup with fresh tomato and rosemary in it, traditional in some parts of greece but not around our house.

Chickpeas are not usually eaten by us in this summer heat.  They come back on the menu in October.  However, we have a corona-stockpile of dried legumes (pulses) and they've gotta go!  So today I am allowed to try out this new-fangled revithia recipe.  It seems to be more of a classic dish in the Cycladic islands, roasted overnight in a tall claypot.

I soaked them overnight in water with a spoon of baking soda.  They boiled really quickly, a whole kilo of them, 25 minutes in the pressure cooker and we have a plethora of chickpeas.

The remaining chickpeas are in the fridge now and I shall send out a message to family to come and take them away.  But they probably won't, not being a favourite of most of the grandkids, so they will go into the freezer in smaller portions.

I made some hummus after reading once more on Cro's blog of his hummus with lunch.  I might make some revithokeftethes, falafel to you.  They tend to be dry if not eaten  with lots of yoghurt sauce (tzatziki here) and wrapped up in an Arabian pitta (what you call a wrap) with a bit of salad and I don't know how that will do down with traditional greek people.

Hummus is not greek at all.  It is Middle Eastern and eaten in parts of the med but didn't become known (I wouldn't say 'popular') here till a few years ago.

Here are the ingredients I used -
about a cup of chickpeas (tinned, boiled and soft)
juice of a lemon
1/4 cup of tahini.  This is a traditional part of our cuisine, a paste made from sesame seeds
2 cloves of crushed garlic
olive oil
tsp of cummin
dash of hot paprika
And maybe a little water if it is too thick

You see how healthy it is.  All you have to do is whizz it up in a small mixer..  Eat on bread, chips, crackers

Just add extra or miss out ingredients that you don't like or can't find. Concoct to your taste.  I've made it without tahini, just lots of oil.

Dried beans are made into salads in this hot weather with lots of chopped onion, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.

Lentils we do eat now and again as a soup but not often.  Our children make them into a salad but that is not the custom in our house.

Giant beans we bake sometimes and those are a traditional part of  summer cooking.  We bake them in the oven and add lots of onion and garlic, parsley, a slurp of red wine, ample olive oil and plenty of fresh grated tomato. 

The most popular legume in the summer is fava.  Not broad beans but yellow split peas.  The peas are boiled till soft and left to thicken as they cool.  Lots of olive oil and raw chopped onion is stirred into the 'pease pudding' and eaten as a main or a side dish.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Fish and Stuff

Fresh fish again.  This time K gutted and scaled them.

One of these grilled made a meal for two with a bowl of greens
They were brought to us as payment for the inspection of a broken washing machine and advice to the owner on how to fix it.
They came out of the sea that morning

Another bowl of wine leaves
I'll blanch these and give them to those in the family who want to roll their own dolmathes

Noble Russian vodka says the label.  And the Transatlantic Racing?  Has vodka now replaced rum as the tipple of the navy?
This came into our fridge after another consulation, this time for an ice-coffee machine.  

Saturday 16 May 2020


We are in the middle of our first heat wave.  Temperatures up to 40o in some parts of the country, till Thursday.  At this time of the year these high temps are bearable, just.  The nights are still quite cool and there is a slight breeze.

We have taken up our big carpets, cleaned them outside in the yard, dried them, rolled them and stored them.  Summer clothes are half out, winter clothes almost stored away.  Blankets and duvets exchanged for very light cotton coverings.

Some of our curtains are of the very heavy draft stopping kind.  I'll take those down sometime soon, there are only three of them, and put up some lighter ones which will not stop any essential breezes.

We are not on a diet of greek salad yet but our eating patterns have changed.  Our evening meal, or snack with a glass of red wine, in a glass full of ice, is eaten later and we sit on the side terrace looking towards the pine forest, listening to the neighbourhood dogs and watching for the lights of an airplane.  There are no airplanes of course, none circling to land at Athens International, none gaining height as they take off for Africa, Europe, the Middle East and down to New Zealand.

Even the stars seem dimmed.  There is mostly silence.

Last week I picked vine leaves and rolled up some stuffed dolmathes and this weekend it is time for our first stuffed tomatoes and peppers (capsicum).

Tomatoes and green peppers filled with rice and herbs, parsely, mint and basil

A similar sort of filling goes into these wines leaves but with lots of dill too

Here they are rolled and slowly filling the bottom of the pot

Friday 15 May 2020

Garden Stuff

In the morning now I sit  outside.  I'm still drinking hot coffee but it is almost hot enough for the frozen kind.

I observe my small garden from my chair and after coffee I potter, do a little watering, take a stroll with secateurs in hand, pick any lemons that have fallen   

My nasturtiums.  They won't last long once the scorching summer heat begins
I love the way they are mostly yellow but now and again an orange flower pops out.  That's the rusty old wheelbarrow.  I did have a pot in it but I rather like it falllen amongst the greenery

The amaryllis in all its glory

Garden decor

Northsider Dave was having a problem in his Irish garden with slugs and snails and Sol, in her Scottish garden, suggested a way to get rid of the snails in my greek garden was to serve them Mythos, a  greek
 beer.  I didn't ask, why Mythos?  We never drink the stuff, its Alpha beer in our house or Amstel.

I juggled/struggled with the thought of drunk snails.  There are dozens in our garden.  In the fridge I found another greek beer,
 Vergina*, and set up a photo shoot.  In the end I couldn't bring myself to waste a good can of beer and the Vergina went back into the fridge.  If anyone tries it, let me know what happens.

Vergina is a village in the Greek province of Macedonia near the site of  three royal macedonian tombs, one belonging to the Phillip, father of Alexander the Great

Sunday 10 May 2020

Giants Be Here

Mother Nature has her seasons, has her reasons

This is the spring of giant grape leaves
The small leaf at the top is a normal size one that I have picked to make stuffed vine leaves (dolmathes)
There are masses of these giant leaves, along side the regular leaves.  Now is the time I pick for cooking but also we remove a lot of the leaves so the grapes get sunlight and also they say with the removal of leaves the vine gives more strength to the fruit

Where have all the poppies gone
There are years when the fields around us are a mass of bright red poppies.  This year we have only a few peeping out from amongst the wild grasses on the side of the road

At easter we  normally have tablecloths and tuille at hand to cover the lamb as we take it down from the spit to protect it from the flocks/hordes of flies.  This easter (in lockdown) we (just the two of us) roasted our lamb in the oven.   There was no need to cover the oven tray for there were no flies.  No flies?  An easter miracle!  And still there are no flies, and not many wasps around either.

Last year we had very few ants where normally we have to keep everything in the fridge or airtight containers.  Ants appeared instantly, in other years,  as soon as a loaf of bread hit the bench or a crumb hit the floor.

The last few years we have had masses of grasshoppers, and green stick insects and jumpy things.  They have all gone.  Two years ago we had wasp swarms making making any outdoor drinking or eating an exercise of arm waving and cursing.  Our sugar water traps were always full.  Last year the same sort of trap caught only a handful.

It is early yet but we wait to see what pestilence will annoy us this summer, or will it just be this cursed virus

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Let 'em Go

The local pensioners with their little fishing boats, under 7 metres, are allowed out to fish.
Yeh!!  No nets, but amateur fishermen have been banned from using nets for some years now.  Facebook started flashing messages οn Monday evening when there was an official announcement at the end of the daily briefing.

But as usual, there is a hitch.  Next morning fishermen weren't allowed out because the Harbour Police had not yet received the official go-ahead.  

And crazy grandchildren can go swimming at the beach across the road from their house. They were complaining today that it wasn't hot enough. Weird kids. They have been swimming all winter. Quarantine has made them soft!!
Their cousin, my youngest grandaughter, was made of sterner stuff.  She went into the sea yesterday and said it wasn't even cold.  

Moving about between districts and big towns is still prohibited and it is difficult to land on our island but not impossbile.  Poros has the only banks, Post Office, and offical-paper-places for miles around.  For all the small villages nearby on the mainland Poros is the business centre.  They must come here to do official business. And now they can.  Pensioners without electronic know-how can  use the bank again.  But the little taxi boats which carry them across can now only take 2 passengers at a time, instead of 28.  Not much profit in that for the water taxi owners.

The hydrofoil which comes from Piraeus, the port of Athens, can now only load up 7 passengers instead of the almost 100 that is their capacity.  How long are these services going to continue running before they go bust.

Private cars could only have two people in them, the driver and one passenger.  Now they can have three.  Woo-bloody-hoo

Last night police all over the country were breaking up Corona-virus-parties as the parks in big cities filled up with party goers dancing and enjoying their freedom and take-away alcohol sold by cafeterias.

(Cafeterias and tavernas are still officially closed except for take-away coffee, food and 'drinks')

There are still a few things to be ironed out it seems.

Sunday 3 May 2020

Freedoms Eve

Tomorrow lockdown restrictions are easing.  Today it's a beautiful sunny Sunday.  Everyone seems to be outside, celebrating today.  Just a few hours to go.
 Cars are going up and down our cul de sac.  Our part-time neighbour is having an ouzo get-together for his old wheezy friends.  There are no virus cases on this isolated island so I suppose they will all be safe.  I wonder if the police are out checking permits today.

 What would their reasons be for moving out of town?  Going up to feed the farm dog, going to assist an elderly aunt?  They are all elderly.  Anyway, who cares.  K has gone down the road too to join the gang for a resumption of the 'debating society'.   I wonder what they are all talking about today.  What's the gossip.  I'll hear it all later when a wine soaked tongue won't stop wagging.

They'll all go home happy.  

Tomorrow we can just walk out our front doors, no need for reasons, for permision slips, for an sms letting us go to the supermarket or the chemist.  I will stay at home I think.  

But I did do some preparation for out-of-isolation-socialising
Hair colour.  I'm completely blonde again, with a crooked fringe and curls down over my collar.  I think I'll leave the cutting of my hair for a little while yet and see where it grows to

Our washable masks are all ready. 3euros each I think they were, from the chemist.  We must wear masks at all times in indoor spaces, or risk a large fine

Friday 1 May 2020

May Day

 A public holiday, usually,  a day for picnics and kite flying.

It has been postponed officially till the first Monday after lockdown is over. No one today is allowed to drive outside their immediate neighbourhood, shops are closed, gatherings not allowed and social distancing a priority.

However in the centre of Athens and other big cities workers, activists are still gathering for their usual May Day march and protest. They are all standing 2 metres apart, at the moment, are wearing red masks and waving red flags. Down with capitalism, 

My daughter made a posy of bright cheerful flowers for her front door...... this is a photo taken at dusk and hence is a bit dusky

On May day Eve it is a tradition to gather wild flowers and make them into a wreath to hang on the door or gate.

I shall make ours today. After my coffee I shall send an SMS, get my permission to leave the house and go for a walk to see what I can gather.

There were plenty of flowers and greenery in our garden so I didn't have to go far.
This posy is for our front gate.
Rosemary, oregano, geraniums, a lemon branch and a rose

A wreathe of lemon branches, rose geranium, a bright yellow nasturtium which is hiding behind the lemon leaves and a few roses