Sunday 30 August 2020

Flora

 


I have half a dozen squash plants and they have loads of flowers every morning*.  So far only 2 squash have formed and these have grown to the size of a tennis ball and then withered away.  I have squash in pots and squash in the ground, squash in the sun and squash in the shade. They get watered once a day and sometimes twice.  I give them coffee grounds and egg shells and once I even broke an egg near the roots for a bit of extra nourishment.  The next step is a tin of sardines once again buried near the roots.  Youtube 'experts' say it's just what they need.  That's about 5 euros for the sardines and a euro or 2 for the eggs and many euros for water.   I can buy a supply of squash to last all winter for that money.  But I did like my squash.


They would grow over the wall into the english neighbour's driveway and I'd have to send my tall grandson to collect them at the end of summer.


These little devils are red hot and come up on their own every year amongst the mint.  There are at least 5 plants there now and they are thriving.  






Elderly neighbour Vaso has a line of pistachio trees and they are full of large bunches of 'nuts' just now.  Unfortunately the nuts are empty.  Because she has only male trees the fruit does not mature as it should.  No pistachio harvest alas.  She has had those trees for many years.  I can never understand why she hasn't planted a few of the other kind .  They thrive here.  The next door island of Aegina is famous (in greece) for their nut harvests



This is purslane or glistritha as it is called here.
Glistritha is the word for something which slips and slides.  This keeps low to the ground and slides along the surface.  K says his mother used to eat it as a salad.  I've never seen it on anyone's table here but I'm going to nurture this and use it with lettuce and nasturtiums in winter salads.  It dries out completely in the summer but this one is just starting to grow near the lemon trees which are watered quite often.

Wikipedia  says  it has a mucilaginous quality.  That does not sound very palatable.  Can be made into
 a tzatziki type dip with yoghurt.   Similar to spinach.  Suitable for soups and stews.  I think I'll experiment a little before serving it up to traditiontal people even if they do say their mother ate it


I cleaned up my pot of thyme yesterday.  There were a lot of dry bits to trim.  Inside the pot I found 16 snails and in the next door pot (not shown) there were 27.  I gathered them all up and threw them over the fence under Vaso's carob tree.  They can feed there to their little hearts' content without eating someone else's dinner.  They had better not come crawling back.

Those are just a fraction of the snails in the garden.  I've been getting rid of them for months but they seem to multiply overnight.  I'm going to have to bring in the cavalry.  I'll get the grandchildren and pay them to exterminate.  Well, to pick them up at least.

* Vaso's daughter-in-law gathers the flowers and fries them.
She made keftethes (rissoles) out of them the other day.

You chop up 3 or 4 tomatoes and drain off the excess juice. 
 Chop up the pumpkin/zucchini flowers too.  
Add around 200 grams of flour.  Enough so they are not runny. 
1 tsp baking powder
 1 egg to bind the mix
Add lots of chopped mint and whatever herbs you have on hand.
Parsley, dill, basil.  
A good handful of feta  or other cheese

Mix and put in the fridge to 'soldify' a little
Drop spoonfuls into hot oil



Thursday 27 August 2020

Going Swimming



On our way down the steep hill to the bay below we pass this small church dedicated to Agia (female saint) Paraskevi.   She specialises in the healing of the eyes.  Her fiesta is midsummer, 26th July.  The celebration attracts crowds, though not as many as in days of yore when families  would sleep out under the trees so they could attend the evening and the early morning service. It was a night and day of religion and revelling.



The church of  Agia (Saint) Paraskevi




A small shrine in the driveway of our neighbour across the valley



The small stone house on the left of the photo is the original homestead of a farming family. Five sons grew up in that house.  Four of them went into the navy.  The house on the right with the bougainvillia is a summer home of one of the brothers and a base for oil picking. All the brothers have holiday homes in the area and we are related to one of them, and now all of them, as we are godparents to one of the next generation. 

The house is at the end of our cul de sac. 








This little shack sticks out into the middle of the road causing a very sharp blind bend.  He wasn't going to move that shack for any new road.  And so we go round it, carefully 



Our spot on the beach.  It's the only bit of shade now the canteen has been removed and by 11am all the local swimmers are gathered there to pass the time of day and discuss the fishing situation. This little patch can get rather crowded




The little bay.  Sheltered, except for the roaring north winds.  Sand is no longer hauled in to cover those stones.







This what the main beach looks like today


This how it was three years ago.  It was our local hangout. A swim and a coffee was the order of the day and often a quiet drink at night beside the sea.





Wednesday 26 August 2020

Out in Society

 Our partial lockdown has ended.  However, bars, tavernas, cafeterias and the like must close at midnight, no more than 4 at a taverna/ cafe table but we no longer  wear masks in the car and in public places.

I went out shopping for the first time in weeks.  Poros might not have its usual August crowds but there were people about, drinking coffee, buying bread and beer, docking their yachts, coming to a screeching halt in the middle of the road to talk to friends and filling the sun chairs at the beaches.  It was a hot and summery day, just a little quieter than normal in midsummer


Poros was the site of the first Naval Base in modern Greece, established in 1827.  This is one of three or four cannons preserved from this time.  The others are inside the present Naval Base.  This one is on the waterfront for small boys to clamber onto and young girls to drape themselves over for a photo shot.





The cinema has finally opened.  It is open-air, on the roof top of  this building behind.  The first few movies seem to be for children.  They always have the latest releases.  This year the number of director type chairs have been halved.  No popcorn or drinks are being sold.  The ticket for everyone is a cheap 5 euros.  Films are mostly in english with greek sub-titles.   It's a good nights entertainment up there on the roof.  


Quite a few yachts have re-appeared but not the flotillas that used to weigh anchor in this spot.   A flotilla is a group of boats, full of mostly young tourists, who cruise together for a week or more.   They sail around the Saronic Gulf spending a day or more at Poros and a few other close destinations.  They go swimming, eat at local tavernas, visit ancient sites, party, drink lots of beer and navigate the blue Aegean.   






Saturday 22 August 2020

Pyramids in Greece

    Yes, Greece has pyramids, 16 at least, the remains of 2 or more close by.   Visiting ancient relics is not high on traditional person's list of favourite activities so I'm happy I took a few photos when we visited after a lunch of lamb chops and wine at a nearby taverna, many years ago.  The pyramid was well sign posted and close-by so he couldn't wriggle out of a bit of sightseeing.



Daughter posing in the sun on an ancient stone


The pyramid is on a hilltop with a spectacular view of the plain and towns below, possibly a reason for it being built there.  The plain below and the general area abound with archealogical treasures.  Here nearby is the palace of Mycenae, the site of the giant walls and citadel of Tiryns and a lot more of very ancient structures including theatres, temples, a stadium and the remains of stone bridges and roads going back over 4000 years.

As you can see this pyramid is not quite as spectacular as the Egyptian kind. This one is only a few metres high and the top has toppled. 

It's age is  2730BC which means it predates the Egyptian ones by 100 years.  The inside is the size of a large room.   No one is sure about its use, just that it wasn't a burial tomb. 





The entrance 


Thursday 20 August 2020

The Carob Tree

Haroupiá, known to you as the carob tree.  It grows into a huge shade tree here and the carobs hang off it like great beans, starting off green and eventually turning a dark, hard, brown.  At this stage they fall to the ground and are gathered by the locals as winter feed for goats and rabbits, and other livestock.




This is the carob tree exactly opposite us.  85 year old Vaso used to gather great sacks of carobs, from this tree and from the neighbours for her chooks, goats and rabbits.  Hidden in that tree is a large tree house.




If you look closely you can see bunches of brown carobs.
Vaso's son says he is going to make carob flour this year.  I tried one year, or rather I thought about making carob flour.  In reality it is quite a difficult process.  

You can also make a syrup out of it and it can be ground up and used like coffee.

One of our extended cousins was driving up and down the road yesterday carrying big sacks of carobs on the back of his motorbike.  He has goats and sheep I think.  Next doors carobs on one side are gathered by another friend and relative for his goats and the big carob tree on the english peole's land is usually gathered by Vaso.  Last year some rogue Albanians took the crop.  The carob bean is worth its weight in gold, almost.  It gives vitamins and minerals to the animals and saves their owners a lot of money in winter feed.

Vaso has slaughtered her goats and I think her rabbits too.  The carobs from her own tree will be enough for the chooks.




These are some carob beans I picked from Vaso's tree.  They are sweet and chewey, the taste being vaguely like a date

Down in Crete they are trying to get the carob tree onto the UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage.  They say the carob tree saved many lives in WW11 .  They ate it, boiled it, burnt it as firewood, made bread with it. The Cretans are renown for their very healthy life style.  They gather and eat greens from their fields, cultivate the olive and eat the oil mostly raw, gather herbs for cooking and for making tea, grow grapes and make wine, distill their own very potent raki and drink it in large quantities.  They keep bees, herd goats and make cheese, yoghurt and the dried pasta which here is called  hilopites or make the sour trahana which thickens stews and fills stomachs in a cold winter.
Mind you, most of rural greece lives this way.

But we were talking about carobs.

That's it folks.

We lived in Crete for three years.  One day I'll post about it





Tuesday 18 August 2020

Holy Serpents

 15th August is the biggest holiday of the Greek year and even with the virus, anyone who could, returned to their village for this huge religious celebration.  The islands are a popular place to visit in August because so many of them have churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary and their fiestas, used to, go on for days and nights.


On the island of Kefalonia, over on the Italian side of Greece there is a little church where harmless snakes suddenly appear just before the Feast of the Dormition.


A Holy Serpent

They are said to appear only at this time and disappear a few days after the fiesta.  According to tradition if they don't turn up it heralds a tragedy.  They did not appear in 1940 just before WW11, when Kefalonia was occupied by the Italians, and again in 1953 when the island suffered a tremendous earthquake.

The villagers wait with great anticipation for the first snake to appear and church bells ring out to announce their arrival.  This year, 2020, with all its woes, the snakes returned.  A good omen for all of us.

The snakes are friendly, crawl through the church and can be picked up and handled.  They are not longer than one metre and have a small cross on their head.

They are called the miracle snakes of the Panagia (Virgin Mary).  I have read a few explanations of why they might appear at this time, one of them saying the church is on their migratory path.  

It doesn't matter.  It must be quite a sight to see these snakes crawling all over the icons and the faithful, although after reading various sites it seems that there are only 2 or 3 that have appeared in recent years


So  there you go.  

I visited the island of Kefalonia in `1974 with a couple of friends.  We had heard that there was a monastery with the mumified body of a saint.  Saint Gerasimos.  I don't know what on earth we were expecting to see but I remember a coffin in the church with some sort of ghostly mummy.  We had a Nun trailing us who probably expected us at the very least to kiss the glass case where the Saint was preserved.  I don't think we even lit a candle because that was all so foreign for the 3 of us .  We got out as fast as possible, having no idea of Orthodox protocol.  The Nun I am sure was not happy with our disrespect which was simply ignorance.


Saturday 15 August 2020

The New Norm 2

Home style hair cuts.
Mine looks like a bowl-cut so I'm told by my 'adorable' grandaughters who did the dirty work.  Well, thanks girls




Revenge for my daughters who had haircuts like mine all through their very young years.  I chopped their locks till they went to school.  They both complain they look like play -mobile toys in all their old photos.

My hair is not too bad.  My fringe looks straight, it's not hanging in my eyes and Nels clipped the back so it doesn't straggle on my shoulders


These two whizzes of the dog clippers 



It was all his idea.  We were both ready for haircuts when the virus entered our island.  He didn't like the 'trim' I gave him back in April.  There was a wee bald spot, hardly noticeable and grew out fast.  He decided he'd rather have our daughter do the cutting with the clippers, people clippers.  She trims their dogs so she has lots of experience.  With dogs.

 




 

Friday 14 August 2020

The New Norm 1

 There it is, the new addition to our house.  A bowl full of masks right beside the front door.



Don't forget to grab one before you leave

Partial lockdown on the island ends on Monday.

What next?










Thursday 13 August 2020

Evil Under the Sun

A few days ago I posted  the photo below on instagram.
I was making this years supply of a liqueur made from red wine and rose geranium leaves





1 1/2 litres red wine, 300 grams sugar, a big bunch of fragrant rose geranium leaves and a cinnamon stick.  Simple and you get a light aromatic liqueur
 


So who put the evil eye on me?
The jar has to stand, preferably in the sun, for about a month.
I had the big jar on the bench and decided a better place for it would be the windowsill.

I lifted it up and carefully started to place it in the new sunny position.  The jar exploded.  One and a half litres of syrupy liqueur ran through the window rails, down the wall, under the radiator, the couch and down the outside wall.  Ye gods and little fishes, I couldn't believe it.

It took me over an hour to clear up the mess.  I had to change the mopping water three times.  I had to move furniture, the 25 kilos of bugless flour and half a dozen six packs of water.   

You can imagine the cleaning up involved in sopping up a litre and a half of sticky liquid and cleaning out those rails that the windows slide along.  I even had to get the hose out and spray water all over the outside wall and the tiles on the balcony.

Evil eye.  Maybe, maybe not.
I named this post 'Evil under the Sun' .  Later, after all that damn cleaning I was looking on youtube for another recipe, for K's favourite, cuttlefish and spinach and what should pop as a google suggestion but Agatha Christie's audio book 'Evil Under the Sun'.  And lo and behold the exact same Agatha Christie play was on TV that night.  I don't know quite what all that points to but there was evil lurking around our house that day so I said a few heebie jeebies, crossed myself a few times and spat three times as well.

The day started off with a warning sound from K's phone that something was moving on our ibank account.  Hackers had got into one of our cards and were having a spending spree.  He got on the phone immediately and sorted that out but it took ages waiting in phone queues and then he had to make a trip to our local bank as well.  Not such a simple operation in these days of covid-19.

Today our world is quieter.  

I am going to make another batch of that liqueur.  We have plenty of red wine and I have another big jar.  This time I won't take any photos and I won't be posting on social media.

spit spit spit
evil eye be gone

Oh and by the way, I added a shot glass of ouzo to the cuttlefish (like big kalamari) and my traditional person was over the moon.



Monday 10 August 2020

Goings On

We have become the lepers of the Saronic Gulf.  30 positive cases of covid-19 and another 130 people awaiting the results of their tests. 400 cars left on Saturday filled with holiday makers.The Mayor of the next door island, Aegina, announced he doesn't want ships that stop at Poros docking on his island.   

We had all the TV cameras down here interviewing the natives and asking if tourists were going to cut their stay short.  Of course they all said yes.  We will probably be front page news again once the test results come out though very bad flooding on the island of Evia and turkish leader Erdogan's latest antics did kick us into 3rd place yesterday.  


Last week we had a hawk circling our house, and the immediate area, for days on end.  A beautiful bird, lovely to watch but he screeched non-stop.   I can't see his screeching would be the ideal thing to do when hunting small creatures hiding in long grass unless he was trying to flush them out.  I have heard that hawks bring bad news.  I'm inclined to believe it.


Two days ago there were strange grey clouds behind the hills, billowing ominously up from the horizon.  Cars began coming up from the beach below and 2 fire engines screamed past on the upper road, sirens blaring.  It looked like smoke.  No, said K who is never wrong.  He rang our local councillor .  Of course it wasn't smoke.  He was right.  But obviously many thought it was a fire at the back of the island.  It was soon very clear it was fog which slowly came over from the back of the hills and crept down into the valley.

False alarm there. 


Our little cul de sac has filled to more than its capacity, by my measurement!  Our foreign neighbours have arrived, the house below us has been rented out, the navy officer at the end of the road has deserted ship to spend his leave here.  Across the valley we have the woman who shrieks (instead of talking) with her brood at the family summer vacation house and the inheritors of the old house on the hillside are also here, for the long term it seems.  I wonder if they are under house 'arrest' after a covid test.  I used to be asked how I could live up in the hills with so few neighbours, out in the wilds.  Ha, come and see us now.


I have to remind myself each time I back out that we have traffic.  It is no longer my private road.


The corona-virus it seems was spread after a corona-pool-party.  A rave up attended by the younger generation.  I'm glad my tall grandson was away on the island of Paros.  I hope he isn't going to any wild pool parties down there.  Paros too has a couple of corona cases as do many of the islands.  From zero daily cases at the end of June we went up yesterday to 250.  Mostly the virus has been spread through wedding and baptism parties.  Poros is not the only area in partial lockdown.  A lawsuit has been taken out against 'parties unknown' who are responsible for the spread of the virus on the island.


We had rain.  Two days of short showers and one nice long thunderstorm yesterday which watered the trees and revived the garden. It got rid of the hawk as well.   It is still nice and cool today.

Most unusual for August and much appreciated.  The sun is out today and the cicadas are in full chorus but there is a north wind bringing us relief.  No unbearable heat or humidity.


I have been handsewing masks.  I have cramp in my thumb and a hole in my finger.  K wanted a couple which were longer than the commercial ones.  


It's wearable


And again, I need a haircut.  


On the news now.  40 more corona virus cases on Poros


Thursday 6 August 2020

Beginning of the End

 The island is bursting with holiday makers.  Cars everywhere, hotels full.



Octopus hanging up outside a seaside taverna


Summer visitors enjoying sun and sea


One of the bays


All the beaches are crowded

These were photos this week on the island.
Next weeks photos maybe a little different.

We have 18 confirmed covid-19 cases on the island.
From tomorrow everything will be closed between the hours of 11pm and 7am.  Masks are compulsory indoors and outdoors. No gatherings in public or private of more than 9 people.  No farmer's market tomorrow.  Tavernas and cafeterias will still be open during the day.  Restrictions to last for 10 days.    A special force is coming down to enforce all the new rules.


We have known about this for almost a week. Rumours and gossip have been flying like lightening around the island and finally tonight we got an official announcement.

I can imagine the visitors will be leaving in droves.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Frappé

I like coffee, hot coffee, but comes the time when temperatures shoot off the top of the thermometer and  every drink I drink has to be as cold as possible.  I don't like ice water but I'll even drink that when July comes to August.

We have various coffee choices here.  Iced nescafe is called frappé, served with milk or sugar or just plain 'sketo'.  Coffee, water and lots of ice.
Then there are the newcomers -
iced capuccino called freddo capuccino
iced espresso called freddo espresso
and the latest is iced greek coffee, called I don't know what.  No one around here drinks it and I wonder what it is like.  Greek coffee is served in a tiny cup and half of it is silt.  Coffee grounds.  Do they drain off the top coffee and add ice?





Here's how you make frappé.  Take a glass and a coffee beater.
I see there are various other methods.  Look on youtube.  'They' use a whisk or a beater or even a spoon to mix the coffee


Put in barely an inch of cold water and your instant coffee and sugar if you want it.  Don't add too much water at this stage or you'll end up with a glass of froth and no room for more water.

I make my coffee with one spoon of nescafe decaf.  K likes two spoons of classic nescafe and a spoon of sugar.

These are TEAspoons I might add

Mix till frothy and you're sure the sugar has dissolved.
Add very cold water and lots of ice.  Pop in a straw and Bob's your uncle.



Here's your classic greek frappe at a classic greek cafe 


What I prefer now is iced filter coffee.
I make my morning pot, turn off the contraption and pour a cup.  That cup/mug goes in the fridge and about an hour later I drink it with a few ice cubes.  The rest I put in a shaker and put the shaker in the fridge so I have iced coffee all day long


Homemade.  My cup of iced filter coffee and K's traditional greek frappe.

And we're all set for the rest of the day.  Though, K does often drink a small cup of greek coffee in the morning.  It is always his beverage of choice.  Traditional people follow the old customs of this land.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Bugs

How many bugs are too many bugs?

Our big 25 kilo barrel of flour suddenly came alive in our last heat wave.  There were wriggling bugs all through the flour damn it.  So I started sieving.  It takes a while to seive 25 kilos of flour.  I put the first 5 kilos in a big bowl and covered it tightly with a cloth.  That didn't stop the ants from invading.  

I had to resift that lot all over again.  Continuing on slowly I realised that I had better speed up the whole process.  That first lot, already sifted twice now, had bugs in it again.  

This wasn't an invasion but a bloody pestilence.  



Nasty bugs alive, alive o

They aint alive anymore.  I bagged the whole darn 25 kilos and stuck it all in the big freezer for 48 hours.  

I've had bugs before but never like this.  I look at the flour and think 'do I really want to eat that?'   Thank goodness it can't be eaten raw

Search Results

Knowledge result

Let me tell ya a story about a boll weevil
Now, some of you may not know, but a boll weevil is an insect.
And he's foundmostly where cotton grows.
Now, where he comes from, hm, nobody really knows.
But this is the way the story goes.
The farmer said to the boll weevil
"I see you're on the square"
Boll weevil said to the farmer
"Say yep! My whole darn family's here"