Thursday 24 February 2022

Hospitals and Invasions

Chapter One

Hospital visit

 Today the hospital at Nafplio is taking emergency cases. Chaos.

The last time we came they gave us a temperature check and then K and I simply walked in. He got a ticket for the doctor we were going to see, having already closed a rendezvous, and found the appropriate office. The doors are always closed so you hover around until it opens and then pounce, giving the paper to however comes out, hopefully a nurse. It's a bloody stupid system but works. Then you sit down and wait for your name to be called.

This hospital is rather small and is used by locals and yokels like us. While you're waiting you're likely to see a prisoner or two come in escorted by guards from the Agricultural Prison nearby. The corridors often have families of Roma (gypsies) with grandmother, an aunt or two and always a few small children. The women still dress in long skirts usually of flashy colours and the men often have gold bracelets and chains .

Those I feel sorry for are the foreign workers, Indians and Pakistanis who have no idea of the system and wander from door to door till someone takes them by the elbow to the door they need.

The wait to get an appointment was only a week.  Rural hospitals like this one have good doctors and the wait for treatment is not too long.

Today at the hospital entrance a bulldog of a woman wouldn't let me through because I didn't have an appointment. They didn't have a machine to scan our covid apps so luckily I dug out a paper one I had  printed for K, and daughter Elli, who is a computer whizz (and beautiful too spit spit spit), found her certificate online. Then they had to give name and age, and show their ID card. No temperature check . 

They went in to get their paper for the rendezvous and I went out to find a decent cafeteria, with a loo. 

The loo in the cafe is a damn sight cleaner and more inviting than those at the hospital!!  The light is magical and turns on by itself, there's a real loo seat and paper. And liquid soap, hand disinfectant. 

That bulldog of a woman on the hospital gate is a necessity here where everyone tries to slip by and ignore the rules. She tells us that all these checks have to be done and no support family are allowed in today because the hospital is on emergency duty.

Elli texts me to say that there's a long queue for the orthopedic surgeon today. Last time it was just us .

Chapter Two

This morning the news was that Putin has invaded the Ukraine.  My blood froze when I heard those sirens wailing in Kiev. I couldn't believe it.  Damn him and all politicians.

How can that happen in this world in 2022. How can one country just walk in and take over another .

Greece has been hearing increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Turkey. I hope Erdogan doesn't get buoyed up by Putin's aggressive 'victory' and think he can walk into the 100 Greek islands he insists are actually Turkish.  I see this morning he has condemned the Russian invasion. That's hopeful.

There are incidents almost daily between Greek and Turkish vessels. Yesterday the Greek coastguard guard attempted to expel a Turkish fishing boat from Greek waters and ended up firing on it. 

Chapter Three

Today is Tsiknopempti, Smokey Thursday, the last of the big meat eating days before Orthodox Lent.  In days of yore it was a huge family celebration.  We all gathered to BBQ lamb chops, sausages and hamburger with lashings of homemade and very garlic-ky tzatziki.  This year for the first time it looks as though we will be eating on our own.  Just the two of us.

Clink, clink 

'To your good health my dear' 

Stin ygiea sou agapi mou'.

We got home from the hospital just after midday.  Elli with her wounded hand went off to chill the sauv blanc we had bought in LIDLS and we went off to digest the bad news.  K must have an operation to repair his right tendon.  The left may be improved by physio.  He is not a happy camper, at all.  Next week we will be going to see the Orthopedic surgeon at the other local hospital.  He wants a second opinion.

Elli is  being cautious and keeping the grandchildren away from us.  Both have covid cases in their school classes and have to have daily self testing and a RaT (rapid test) at the weekend.

All the schools had BBQs today to celebrate this momentous meat eating day.  Luli told us that her souvlaki was tough and burnt.  Papous will be recruited next year to give them a 101 on BBQing.

'Jane' 2022

Poppi, as is wont, got dressed up for the school's festivities.  It is carnival time.  Time to dress up and have a knees-up, normally.  She's dressed as Jane Fonda in case you didn't realise.

Jane Fonda Aerobics Guru circa 1980

I'm now enjoying a dry red from northern Greece. Lidls had it 2.99 euros for a 2 litre bottle. K has lit the fire and the lamb chops will soon go in the oven. I made some tzatziki and garlic bread. We'll 'fiddle while Rome burns' tonight. 

Cheers Big Ears. Here's hoping for a better tomorrow.  Not likely 

Off the Island

 Most of our outings during the winter are for medical reasons. For scans, ops, specialist appointments we must go to the cities of Argos or Nafplio an hour or so away.

Dear daughter has just had an op for her carpal tunnel syndrome.
K is having scans and opinions for a very painful severed tendon in his arm

We're back today for cutting of stitches for daughter and more consultation for that tendon

And it's market day.
Fresh fish and vegetables, clothes, wine
I was surprised at the great number of empty spaces where stalls used to be. Because of the freeze which destroyed crops or covid?  Not only were there half the stalls but also very few customers. 

After the consultations and the market we went to a very traditional cafenion for wine and snacks.  This is not a cafeteria where you can find a variety of coffees, cocktails, a dozen different beers and loud music. This is a place where men meet to drink a Greek coffee, ouzo with a snack, play backgammon or gossip with friends. I call it the Old Men's Cafe. K loves it, joins in with the conversation at the next door table, drinks wine and enjoys the traditional food.

Lidls is my shopping therapy.
This week the special offers are all on Chinese food. Finally I can find a variety of noodles, vegetables and sauces.

We stop on the way home at the roadside stalls which sell mainly citrus, oil, preserved olives and squash at this time of the year

Looking down on the fertile citrus growing area of Epidavros

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Men Who Lunch

Tou Asotou..The Feast of the Prodigal Son, the second Sunday before Lent in the Orthodox calendar.  That was last Sunday.  Another celebration my husband looks forward to every year.

  Most know the parable of the younger son who demanded his inheritance and then went off and squandered it on wine, women and song. He returns home with his tail between his legs and instead of being cast out is welcomed by his father who 'kills the fatted calf'.

Greek men, the ones in my neighbourhood, celebrate this day as the Feast of all 'naughty boys'.  Just one day in many of their celebrations.  K says prodigal sons celebrate for 6 months before their fiesta and six months afterwards.

I say he's too old to be a prodigal son and should leave it to his grandchildren.  Yet he's never too old for celebration and jubilation.

The men gather to drink wine, gossip (men gossip so much more than women!), argue vehemently, consider, debate and deliberate.  Talking makes them thirsty and very hungry.  And you never drink without eating something to soak up the alcohol.

The meze  is usually meat, a piece of roasted pig, lamb chops or a rooster, slow boiled and stewed with tomatoes.

They don't each have a big plate in front of them.  A meze is a communal plate with chunks of meat from which they cut small fragrant mouthfuls and smother in mustard or tzatziki.  Some aromatic feta cheese, bread, a tomato doused in olive oil, a jug of wine, and no wives around to nag,  makes for happy boys.

At the end of it all they stagger out to their motorbikes and weave their way home, as is the custom here

Saturday 19 February 2022

Fanouropita - Lost and Found

 Lost and found .  I've written about this cake before.  It is called a 'Fanouropita, the Pie of Agios Fanourios' because it is baked in the name of Saint Fanourios who finds lost objects. His name means 'the one who reveals'. It is also baked during Lent and other fasting periods in the Orthodox church because it has no eggs or dairy .


This is a new, to me, recipe.  We were given a piece while having coffee at our favourite T-Cafe on the waterfront and I asked for the recipe.  This one is from Agios Oros,  Mount Athos, the peninsular in northern Greece with 20 Orthodox monasteries where females are forbidden to tread.

First you ask the Saint to open your eyes so you can find your lost object and when it is found, to thank the saint,  you bake the cake and share it with friends and neighbours. Before you eat your slice of cake you must send a prayer so the soul of the mother of St. Fanourios may be saved.  Legend has it that she was sent to hell for living such a shameful life.

   On the fiesta of the saint housewives bake this 'pie' and take it to church to be blessed before being cut up and passed around.  His fiesta is 27th August.

Traditionally the recipe has either *7 or *9 ingredients

1 water glass of oil (180ml) - olive oil or some sort of vegetable oil
3 water glasses (350grams) of self-raising flour 
1 extra tsp baking powder
1 water glass (170grams) of sugar
1 glass of orange juice (200ml) plus the zest
half a glass (100 grams) of chopped walnuts
half a glass of raisins (about 100 grams)
1/2 teaspoon clove (powdered)
1 tsp cinnamon

This can be mixed in a bowl by hand.

Beat the oil and the sugar together . Pour in the orange juice and zest.

Add the self-raising flour, cloves, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.

Oil a cake baking dish.  It doesn't need to be over oiled because of all the oil in the cake mix.  I also read somewhere to sprinkle sesame seeds over the oiled pan and on top of the cake mix for a change.
Pre-heat the oven to 170oC and bake from 40-60 minutes depending on your oven.  In my oven 40 minutes is fine.

Dust with icing sugar.  When cold, cut and hand around.  It's a crumbly cake so have a spoon ready to scoop up the crumbs.
A monk from one of the Monasteries says to cut it into 40 pieces but this  recipe makes a small cake.  They must have huge baking dishes in these monasteries, big enough to feed all their Male visitors.

*7 for the Holy Sacraments 

*9 for the 9 Angelic choirs 

Whatever your religion give it a try. It's a vegan cake and you never know you might find that elusive 'thing' that disappeared like a sock in the washing machine.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Clean Up?

 The council is supposed to be clearing up our area. Last week they had a big truck out and a team of workers.

The verges have been strimmed 
The rubbish is still there
Don't know why they bothered strimming.  It's far too early in the year.  In a month's time the grass and weeds will be knee high again.

This blue bin was blown over a month ago .
The workers didn't put it upright but finally yesterday someone did  turn it back up the right way so it was ready for my rubbish.  The blue bins are for recycling

Our little cul de sac didn't even get it's verges cut. With only two permanent residents, us and elderly Vaso, they obviously didn't find it necessary to give us a spit and a lick.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Sunday Lunch


Mein host.

From a Google search -
'Mine Host' is archaic for 'my host' and is an annoyingly jocular way some people refer to the pub landlord, or to the person they're visiting for a meal - as if the head of the household is a mediaevil innkeeper providing tankards of ale and roast boar to his guests'

I don't know about the 'annoyingly'.  This so accurately describes my traditional husband when his friends are gathered.  His first priority is to make sure their tumblers are always filled with an excellent, by his standards, local wine and their plates piled with delicacies he himself has baked and boiled, sizzled and steamed.  It wasn't roast boar on the menu but could well have been.

There is a taverna down town where the owner and chief griller appears at every table to make sure his guests are eating and enjoying his fare.  He has a large belly, a red nose, a loud voice and a glass at every table.  'Mine host' describes him perfectly.

This Sunday the weather has turned cold and damp once again.  We lit our wood fire at 11am and K kept hot the dishes he had been creating all the morning.

Spetsofa├» is one of his specialities (though I think mine is better).  It's a dish made with village sausages fried and then added to long red peppers which have been stewed in fresh tomato, with lots of olive oil and on a cold winters day with a red hot chilli in the mix.

The other dish he made was chicken and potatoes with lemon juice and oregano cooked in a sealed pot in  the wood oven, simmering slowly for 3 hours.

It's not so much about the food on a day like this.  It is the company, the conversation and the music, the memories from Navy and Army days, tales from all sides today of their time in Crete in the days before tourism and commercialism.  The meals we ate in tiny village tavernas with just a few tables, a woman with a frying pan, the fish reeled in from the lake below the tavern, the cheese  from the animals in the fields next to us, the tomatoes from the garden next to the house and pies whipped up in the kitchen with whatever had been gathered in the fields that morning. 

Good food on the table but there was too much talk to empty the plates

Sunday afternoons there is a good selection of traditional greek music on the TV.  An old song will bring tears to their eyes as they croon along with great emotion

Sausages and peppers, chicken and potatoes, cheese and olives

Our wood stove which keeps the house warm all through winter and cooks our meals 

Today is the first day of carnival. But for the third year in a row there will be no carnival. No dressing up, singing and dancing in the streets, colourful parades and revelling.

Thursday 10 February 2022

Poros Weather

A flooded waterfront.  The sea came pouring in.
This is the parking area downtown.  Everyone got their car out there before it got covered in salt water

A photo taken a while ago but the weather is the same today.  Maybe not such high winds.  There's a car ferry out at sea which couldn't dock.  It went up and down the harbour for half an hour before making landfall.

Now and again we are completely cut-off.  Quite exciting.  It's usually only for 24 hours, or less.  The kids that go to the Technical College  (grandson included) on the mainland are happy.  Their little water taxi man phones their school and gets them off a day of lessons without absentee demerits.

Another day.  The sun has come out.  It's nippy but lovely in the sun.  Looks like its going to be a fine weekend.  Time for coffee on the waterfront, maybe

Monday 7 February 2022

Greek 'Onion'

The Boska.  I'm googling to find out what this great bulb with green leaves is called in English.  We have one hanging on our front gate.

They grow wild in the fields around us, disappear completely in the summer heat and sprout leaves with the first rains.

Our friendly garden man and wood supplier gave us one of these at New Year.  They are supposed to bring good luck.  My daughter says she has one, encased in tinfoil, hanging in their office.  It has been there for years.  She says.. that they never water it or do anything to it but it sprouts new leaves every year.

So I have decided to leave ours on the front gate and see what happens.  It survived the  snow.  

It is their ability to retain water, survive and sprout again and again which symbolises strength and longevity...  and hence the good luck I suppose.  What it's english name is I did not find out.

Another survivor this winter.  A pot of mint.  My garden is full of mint in the spring and summer.  I love the greenery and that sharp fresh smell.  The garden mint disappears with the first rains and temperature drop but this little pot is surviving and thriving.  I haven't moved it to shelter but it too survived the snow.  It's my winter miracle.  

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Tis the Season


Mid winter.  The lettuces are flourishing, the leeks are trying hard, rocket is growing to the sky and the weeds are lovin' it.

Those are nasturtiums in the rear. Some of the leaves are as big as dinner plates. Were, as big as dinner plates.  Last week's icy weather burnt a lot of them. 

The lettuces and leeks survived. We've eaten a few of those lettuces now and the leeks have filled out a bit. I also did some weeding

The front garden is still green. There is rocket in a pot which has grown skywards. I peel off the lower leaves. It's a really spicy rocket. The red chillies are more fiery than spicy.

In this jumble is also a pot with lettuces and onions. They survived too and are ready for picking. 

Vegetables in season. I'm cooking artichokes with carrots and peas in an egg and lemon sauce.