local-kiwi-alien

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Today

Today is sunny and the island is quiet.  The western easter is coming up fast .  We will have a few tourists, strangers, either from outside Greece or more likely from Athens if the weather stays warm


Vaccinated Israeli tourists are being welcomed into the country, Dutch tourists are allowed to travel to the island of Rhodes.  German tourists are arriving in Crete and the government hopes to open the country and begin the 2021 tourist season at the beginning of May.


The world begins to turn again.  When we are able to sit in the sun beside the sea and order our coffee from the waitress of the cafe from across the road then all will be well in our neck of the woods.  


Today I get my first jab of the astrazeneca virus.  I will be going across the sea to Galatas to the health centre there.  Hip hip hooray.  I'll be on my way to getting some protection from this virus and I will be having an outing away from the island.  

 


In the meantime here are the obligatory photos
The car ferry


Last Friday's vegetable market


One of the little island kiosks.  Open from dawn till dusk everyday selling cigaretttes, beer, chewing gum and most things inbetween


Thursday, 25 March 2021

All of Greece Celebrates





        Long May Greeks Live Free







Special guests taking part in the bicentennial celebrations of the uprising against the Ottoman Turks were the Prime Minister of Russia (not the President), the Foreign Minister of France and yes, there they are, Charles and Camilla .


Charles father, Prince Phillip was born in Greece and his great grandfather was King George of Greece. 


They laid wreaths, watched the big parade in Athens, inspected the troops and attended a state banquet.


In Piraeus harbour there are ships of the French and Russian navy and down in Crete is the aircraft carrier Eisenhower.


Sydney Opera House was 'dressed' in the Greek blue and white. A Greek flag was raised in Manhatten and many other US cities. There were commemoration events in Toronto and Vancouver. The Eiffel tower was turned blue and white, Niagara Falls was illuminated in blue light.


And so the world celebrates with Greece.


Zito Hellas








 



Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Tuesday

Thursday is a National Holiday.  It is the commemoration  of the beginning of the war of independence against the ottoman turks in 1821 and it is also a church holiday. On the 25th March the church celebrates the Annunciation when Archangel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ

2021 celebrates 200 years since the Declaration of Independence and there will be 
 activities throughout the year to commemorate the struggle of the Greek people for their freedom.

We always fly the Greek flag on national holidays.






K puts the flag up our flag pole.




The tradition on 25th March is to eat salt cod with garlic sauce.  The photo shows the salt cod as it is sold in the shops, big fillets covered in salt.  Called bacaliaros here.


The fillets are washed and cut into smaller pieces and covered in fresh water for a couple of days. I change the water 3 or 4 times during the day to get rid of the salt. If it's de-salted properly you actually have to add salt when it's cooked.

The bacaliaros can be made into soup or grilled on the BBQ. I prefer the soup which is made with carrots, celery, olive oil of course and lemon juice.

I will probably fry half of the fillets so we can eat it as tradition dictates with skorthalia, garlic sauce, and beetroot.

I'll keep the rest to make into soup.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Monday


I pulled something in my back lifting the mattress.  I can walk but bending down or getting up from a chair is a bit of a battle.  A voltaren tablet and a few rubbings of counterpain have helped a little.

K is on shopping and hanging out the washing duty.

 He spent the morning on the phone trying to convince the phone company to send us  copies of phone bills for a friend of ours so she can complete her paperwork for her after-brexit permit.  This was the fourth call in a few weeks.  After being nice and friendly and promising to send us an email they suddenly, today, decided it couldn't be done.  Now I've just switched on the computer and find an email from them with all the details she needs. 

Hallelujah .



Meanwhile back in the kitchen I blanched and froze a bag of wild asparagus given to us by an inlaw who walks the hills everyday and gathers whatever he finds, greens, avocados, asparagus, herbs, oranges and lemons. His backpack always gets filled.




And I made an asparagus omelette for lunch

I couldn't walk today so here are a couple of photos I took on  recent outings



These two dogs run up to the fence and bark savagely at me everytime I decide to walk past their house.  It doesn't matter how softly I creep along the road they will hear me and come barking and jumping.  Thank goodness there is a strong fence between them and me.  I don't want to find out if their bark is worse than their bite.




When I want to avoid dogs and people I drive my quad bike up to the road above and walk along to the ancient ruins.  I wander around, sit and contemplate amongst the pines and olives and wonder what is was like 2,000 years ago.

The photo is of a piece of pottery.  New, old or ancient?
A friend of mine came up here one day with me and told me to look at the ground and showed me how to see these small shards.  She knew how old they were, more or less.  I look and imagine






Sunday, 21 March 2021

Roses and Vines

 Over the last few weeks I have pruned the roses and our various grape vines .  The new growth has already begun.


This is our neighbours vineyard.  The weeds have been whacked and the straggly growth removed.  There are many small parcels of vines in our area.  The grapes are local varieties, white and red.  The grapes they produce are picked and juiced by hand, and foot, and give the family a few hundred litres of wine, just enough to get them through the year.  Some of the larger vineyards give them enough wine to sell as well.  The locals love to drink local wine.  They know where it has come from, how far it has travelled ( a few hundred metres), what has been put into the barrel besides the juice (nothing hopefully and certainly not sugar), and they know the gossip around the wine.  Who likes it, who doesn't, what is its percentage of alcohol, how early or late the grapes were picked and who made it.


I pruned our grapes this year helped by my grandaughters.  In years gone by various other people have pruned them , and I have done it myself a few times too.  I've learned the basics and really our vines don't seem any different whether done by me or a so-called expert.
New growth always appears, as you can see.  The vines grow fast and give us a screen of greenery around the balcony and protect our vegetable garden from the scorching sun


The vines I remove are cut into smaller pieces and after a few months are used on the bbq or in the outdoor woodfired oven


The roses are hit or miss.
I've watched others over the years prune them in various ways.  They produce beautiful roses every year.  Thus is an old fashioned rose.  I'm sure they don't sell these anymore.  Look at the size and the number of those thorns.  It always shoots up to the sky and gives us  dark red velvet like blooms.


Thursday, 18 March 2021

A Wintery Beach

 The last summer tourist season started off well considering all the problems. Then just before 15th August, peak holiday season, the virus reached the island and we were number one news item for the next few days.  Holiday makers left like rats deserting a sinking ship.


Since then greeks and a few foreigners have returned, or did return till the 3rd wave hit us and now no-one can, should, travel between towns and counties.  It has been a quiet old winter.  


Now and again I have gone down to walk beside the sea.  I shouldn't anymore.  You are supposed to exercise within 2 kilometres of your home.  But pine trees and barking dogs have begun to bore.  

This is our main tourist beach on a sunny winter's day
A sparkling sea a cloud free sky and an empty beach.


In a few months there will be sunbeds and umbrellas and lines of cars .  


A small private church in the grounds of a cafeteria





A panoramic view of an empty beach
There can't have been any big storms this year.  These beaches are not naturally sandy and the rocks underneath have usually been exposed by now.  Sand is dumped on all the beaches at the beginning of the summer each year 



Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Clean Monday

 A Lenten celebration.  


The first day of the 40 day fast (it is actually 49 days from Clean Monday to Easter Sunday) from meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
A public holiday.  Time to eat shellfish and octopus, kalamari, flatbread (lagana), taramasalata (fish roe salad), drink ouzo and finally fly kites.  

The lagana, I read, is the name of the unleavened bread given by God to the Israelis to feed them while they crossed Egypt to their promised land.  It is two times the price of a normal loaf of bread on this day but I make my own.

When the lagana comes hot out of the oven you break great chunks off, cover them in home made taramasalata and by the time you sit down to eat the lenten meal your stomach is full.  Happens every year.  Our custom is to tear the lagana into pieces and not cut with a knife. 



We were going to sit outside but it was cloudy and windy so we moved the show indoors.  Here the men are bbq-ing octopus, kalamari, cuttlefish and preparing grilled vegetables and steamed mussels.  Far too much, as usual


The winner was...... seafood risotto made with orzo, ouzo, kalamari, octopus and shrimp.  We really didn't need anything else



Except for a wonderful pie full of wild greens, made by granddaughter Nels. She even made the pastry


I organised a treasure hunt for the kids and sent them running all over the neighbourhood (masked and with sms permit) to find all those pieces of paper with the clues and all those choccies were the prize at the end of the rainbow




Finished off the day by flying a kite.  There was plenty of wind and the kite did, once or twice get up quite high.  It also got tangled in some lines and trees but unravelled itself in a miraculous fashion



A good time was had by all.  As usual

The grandkids weeded, pruned, fixed my computer and kneaded dough for the flat bread.  Daughters laid tables, juggled food, did dishes and took away the leftovers.  I gave orders, caught up on the news and took a lot of photos to laugh about in later years


Sunday, 14 March 2021

Getting Ready for Lent

 


The octopus is hung up to dry in the sun so it is ready to be bbq-ed tomorrow.  K lifts it up well above the wall.  Our wild cats are high jump champs



Here K is cleaning out the kalamari before he begins chopping them.  Some will be fried and some grilled




Meanwhile I made several bowls of taramasalata, the salty fish roe salad.  The salted roe is mixed with lemon juice, boiled potato and bread, onion and loads of olive oil.  I make several versions.  K likes his salty and wants to see the bread crumbs and taste the lemon juice.  I put more potato in the other so it tastes less salty and is smooth and creamy.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Today

 

We were cleaning up the big back balcony so the family can sit outside on Monday when we get together to celebrate Lent.  The day started off sunny and warm and now it's cold and damp.      Hoping for a bit more sunshine on Monday.


I walked on the top road today and took a photo of our neighbourhood.  I'd like to tell you which roof is ours but its hard to find.  It's one of those roofs back towards the sea.



A big bowl of greens called vrouva waiting to be washed and boiled


Lunch
Stewed peas and potatoes with a piece of feta cheese


Thursday, 11 March 2021

Artichokes and Peppers

 

Winter cooking.  Artichokes are in season.



We were given a dozen artichokes, some of them very small, baby-chokes.  I wasn't sure they were worth cleaning.  All you eat is the heart and how much heart was going to be in one so small 


Artichokes in various stages of preparation .  I left more leaves on the smaller ones thinking they would be tender and they were.

I cook the artichokes with carrots, potatoes and spring (fresh) onions, olive oil of course and at the end add lemon juice.  Sometimes I add peas too.  They were delicious






K bought a load of long red peppers for a dish he makes with feta cheese and tomatoes.  There were half a dozen left over so I roasted them, then peeled off the skins and marinated them in olive oil and vinegar.  Once again, delicious.

The last time I roasted peppers the skins stuck to the flesh and just wouldn't peel so I googled to find out how to get the skins to slide off.   Roast the peppers till the skins are really black.  Worked like a charm.

Peppers are out of season. These are local hot house



Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Spring Colours

 


All the olive groves are covered in yellow wild flowers


And, yes, it was a poppy I saw the other day.  Here is a close-up


Anywhere there are pine trees there is a layer of pollen
It covers the cars, the balconies and makes my eyes smart


The dusty verges are also in full colour at this time of the year.

It is a pleasure to walk amongst all this wild beauty

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Around Town

                                                    Shopping 2021   



The greengrocer in the centre of town.  He will always have an iceberg lettuce, avocados and portobello mushrooms.  A few years back this was the only shop to have those exotic vegetables but now  most of the little shops have them too.  I remember back 20 years  this was the first place to sell broccoli.  Broccoli, an exotic.  Now even  the farmers grow it for the weekly market.

The greengrocer is right on the waterfront and is surrounded by cafeterias, the bread shop and the central market.  The meat market is still open with one or two stalls of fish and meat .  Little else is open today


The usual line outside the chemist.  Not too many today.
Next door is the hardware store, always open.  Its like your Bunnings, Leroy Merlin, or any big shop selling nuts and bolts, paints, olive rakes, chainsaw chains and all those things men like to drool over.




The central bread shop.  Mainly just the basics right now.  Long loaves of white and brown and sourdough bread.  Twice baked bread (rusks?), dry hard slices  which greeks love to dip into the oil of their salads, their coffee or their soup.

Next door is the hot pie, takeaway coffee and sandwich shop.  Hot slices of tiropita (cheese pie), spanakopita (spinach pie) , cheese and ham and sausage pies.





One of the few tavernas still open and selling food in packages to take home.  Chicken, beans, meatballs or tripe soup.


And here's the hardware store mentioned above.


The local police patrol the streets with a taped message telling everyone to keep their distance


Our local grocer just out of the main town.  Very small but popular especially with the immediate neighbourhood.  They have everything including local wine, beans and lentils from a sack, dates out of a box, as many or as few as you want, fresh feta cheese and a variety of hard yellow cheeses from the surrounding villages, salted sardines and smoked mackerel and amazingly 3 types of peanut butter.

Their fruit and vegetables are either locally sourced or come in every Thursday from the big market in Athens.  Very friendly service and they will order things for you if you ask.

They have a wonderful choice of chocolates and their prices are as good as and sometimes better than our one big 'super'market. 
This is where we usually shop.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Caterpillars and Poppies

                                      

Is that the first poppy of 2021?


                                     

Wild poppies usually don't appear in the fields till late April, early May



No, it's an anemone.  The are very similar but the poppy has rounded leaves and these are pointy.  There are also clumps of purple flowers.  Beautiful.  Nature is appearing slowly in its Spring colours



The first trails of those nasty poisonous caterpillars have also appeared, trekking across the road joined head to tail