Thursday, 28 April 2022

Memorial

 I was hoping K would attend an early morning memorial service for his cousin all by himself. But no, this time he expected his wife to be by his side. We were down there by 9, went into the church to light a candle. Then we went outside to sit on a wall. The church would get crowded later.  The service is broadcast through a loud speaker for anyone preferring to stay out in the fresh air.  K's sister joined us soon after and I got nudged  every time I had to stand up or sit down.  The services are mostly 'greek to me' though I do understand a little more now other than 'God have mercy' (Kyrie Eleison) and Amen



Our daughters arrived a bit later and we all sat on the wall and watched the people come and go, the little boys running up and down the church steps to let off steam and all the passers-by on their way to Sunday work.


Yianni, the friendly undertaker, had all the bags for the funeral wheat (koliva) piled up on a table outside.  He placed them this way and then that way, gave a couple of the sweet cakes, which are popped into the bag with the funeral wheat, to the street cleaner, and had several consultations with members of the family who came out to get a breath of fresh air.

The funeral wheat is in a fancy tray inside the church and is blessed during the memorial.   Yianni then grabs the tray and brings it out to shovel a few spooonfuls in a smaller bag.  The smaller bag of wheat, a sweet cake and a plastic spoon are placed in a larger white bag with a cross on it and handed out as everyone files out the door.  Then we all go off for coffee at a cafeteria nearby, paid for by the bereaved family.

This is where we hear all the family gossip and catch up on friends and relatives.  Each person is given a cup of greek coffee, a glass of water and on the table is a bowl of koulourakia (cookies).  Later a liqueur is served in small glasses.  It's a special liqueur called mastiha.  In days of old there used to be both brandy and liqueur and in bottles on the table and you helped yourself to as many glasses as you wanted hic.  More than once  I tottered out of a memorial coffee  with a slight stagger.  Memorials are morning affairs and we never eat breakfast beforehand


The small boy, grandson of the deceased, spent almost the entire service running up and down those steps.  Thank goodness he didn't have to stand at attention inside. He would have blown a gasket.




Monday, 25 April 2022

Classic Easter

 A beautiful warm day for a classic Greek easter.

We went to our daughters place to eat. There were so many cars parked all along the route in a lot of places it was one way traffic. Up at our local rural taverna we only got through with difficulty. There were cars parked for 100 yards on either side of the road. Heaven knows how they fitted them all in and they must have spit roasted more than 20 sheep and goats.


Classic photos following. 



Cracking red eggs. 


Before the feasting


Son in law cuts the Easter bread, made by me


3 spits of meat
Goat, offal and one of kontosouvli, which is pork





And a huge bbqed fish for one of the extended family.

We had four different salads including a classic Serbian/Polish potato salad.  Grilled asparagus and grilled halloumi. The halloumi/cheese was fresh from the farmers market in Nikosia, Cyprus.

Too much was eaten by all, of course.  'Afters', as my father would say, were halvas made by talented grandaughter and many different flavours of ice-cream. We tried the halvas and brought some ice-cream home, along with bowls of lamb and fish.


Today we celebrate Saint George. It's usually on 23April but it falls during Lent, as happened this year, then the feast day is moved to the Monday after Easter. 

Kronia polla to our grandson George/Giorgios plus numerous nephews, nieces  and relatives.


Today is also Anzac Day in NZ and Australia. Remembrance Day. I watched live broadcasts of services in Dunedin NZ and Cairns in Australia.  Very moving. I haven't seen a remembrance ceremony in many many years. The national anthems brought a few tears.


 



Thursday, 21 April 2022

Thursday

 


The red eggs are dyed and polished, ready to be cracked and eaten  after the midnight mass on Saturday 







Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Hotcross Buns

 Today I finally got around to baking my hotcross buns.  I made the dough yesterday and after a couple of rises and punching it down I left it in the fridge overnight for a long cold rise.  This morning I divided the dough into 12 pieces, roughly formed them into balls and baked them.  Oh boy, that smell of baking buns is devine.  They came out soft and spicy and incredibly fluffy.  I know from experience that when they cool down they also become far less fluffy so I just tore one apart and savoured every bite.



I was going to make hot-without-the-cross-buns but had a look at Nigella Lawson's recipe.  She always goes for ease.  Every other recipe says to pipe the cross on to the buns.  She says dribble the mix on with a spoon.  Splendid.  Looks good I think.  


Unfortunately when I took some down for my daughter I was reminded that today, Holy Wednesday, is a day of strict fast and no-one can eat them because they have eggs and butter.  Hadn't considered that.  Never mind.  They're even better toasted and spread with butter and jam.


Yesterday was Holy Tuesday, the tradiontal day to make easter cookies, called koulourakia.  So the kids gathered and they baked about 80 koulourakia.  Enough for 4 families.  



The girls did all the work and cleaned up afterwards.


The big boss made sure that all was done in a ship shape and bristol fashion. 


Rolling out the dough and shaping it into all sorts of braid and snail shapes


The first batch out of the oven


Official tasters hard at work
The cookies passed the test though we may have to make another few batches at the rate they are disappearing


You can't leave our house without eating so the big boss was also frying piles of kalamari and potatoes for the workers


The kalamari was from New Zealand of all places.  I couldn't believe my eyes when K brought them home and I saw the label.  They were cheaper than the local ones and we had a crowd to feed but heavens to Betsy, here we are in Greece eating NZ squid?



Monday, 18 April 2022

What's Up. Bombay Duck and More

It's Holy week leading up to Orthodox Good Friday, the candlelight parade, Saturday midnight mass and soup made from sheep's guts (to put it literally) and then on Sunday the huge celebration of the resurrection with spit roasting of lambs, or a goat in our case, drinking, dancing and cracking of red eggs.


K will not be eating fish or meat this week but has decided he will eat cheese, but not eggs.  A moderated fast.  Unusual for him.  However, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday he will follow the strict rules with no dairy or olive oil either.  Today he's having spaghetti with a tomato sauce, grated cheese on top, greek salad and taramasalata which is made from fish roe.


This morning he phoned the pharmacy and we have an appointment for our 4th virus shot.  We'll be getting the vaccination Tuesday after Easter. 


Prices are rising but  not enough to cause panic and there is no panic buying in the supermarket.   Everyone is simply checking the price of goat and offal and the cost of a lettuce for the weekend celebrations.  Lettuce is one of the main ingredients in the soup that we eat at midnight on Saturday.  It's 50cents a lettuce or thereabouts which is fine.  Freezing weather affected lettuces for a while but that was ages ago.


Lamb and goat meat has risen from last  years price of around 9 euros  per kilo to 12 euros and is expected to rise to at least 15 euros a kilo.   I haven't checked petrol prices.  We put 20 euros of petrol in the car and it lasts a week or more for our shopping trips.  Otherwise K goes out on his motorbike which is much cheaper to run.  As long as there are no more trips into the city for hospital appointments petrol is not a problem.


There has been a price rise for vegetable oils, sugar and flour. There were limits on what you could buy in the Athens supermarkets but here prices aren't that more expensive and there is no shortage.  The big German supermarket Lidl has had massive fines for unnecessary price rises.


  I have stocked up on noodles.  I read in an online NZ paper that their instant noodles come from the Ukraine and there will be a big shortage soon.  Instant noodles are the only taste of Asian cuisine that are available to me so I bought the last 6 packets in our supermarket.  I hope they've been able to re-stock.  I will stock pile a dozen or so packets of noodles, noodles with spicy shrimp, noodles with wild mushrooms, noodles with oriental chicken flavour or asian spicy pork.  They all taste more or less the same but I pretend I'm eating won ton from the Pearl of the East or bombay duck from an authentic noodle bar. Dream on  


Souvlaki has gone up in the last 2 years from 2 euros for pita bread wrapped around gyro with lashings of tzatziki, tomato, sliced onion and fried potatoes to 2.20, then 2.50, now to 3 euros and it will be 4 euros by the summer,  It's still a cheap meal in your hand.  I haven't had a souvlaki for almost a year but the grandkids eat them now and again.  Its the most popular fast food.  


Winter has suddenly re-appeared.  The last two days have been cold and wet.  I had cleaned up the fireplace and taken up the small rugs.  Fortunately we bought a last load of wood a few weeks ago so we had a supply for the beginning of next winter.  Yesterday we lit the fire and again today.  Weather clearing from Wednesday, so they say.

It's a nasty red rain covering us with a layer of Saharan dust which has turned into sticky mess.  I had just cleaned the last lot off the car.  Now I'll have to do it all over again, when the sun shines.


I have been following a series on TV presented by actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales.  Really interesting and their accents and english manners are charming.  First of all they were in a narrowboat cruising England's canals, then the Broads.  They popped over to cruise the French canals, taking  time to sample local wines, onto the River Douro in Portugal where they supped marvellous Port (wine) then to Italy where they sailed into Milan.  I have an idea they were going to South America but missed today's episode.   On Sunday I watched Timothy West playing a Vicar in a Hercule Poirot mystery.  He made an excellent Vicar.


On Youtube I'm watching an Australian series called The Extraordinary.  They are true life tales and supernatural experiences.  Right up my alley.  Thank goodness its raining today and I can sit and enjoy a good show, even if it is on the small screen.


















Sunday, 17 April 2022

Palm Sunday

 It's Palm Sunday in the Orthodox world. 

This year the Orthodox church celebrates Easter one week behind the Western Christian churches.

Yesterday was the Saturday of Lazarus.


This a photo from days of old.  These grandaughters are lanky teenagers now.  But in those days of old Papou showed them how to make paper Lazarus dolls.  They're like paper puppets and move up and down.  Probably representing the rising of Lazarus from the dead.



Last year, having nothing better to do during quarantine, I baked Lazarus cookies. My traditional person likes to keep tradition alive.  It was fun for the grandkids too.

This week, called Holy Week, they'll be up to bake traditional greek easter cookies with their traditional Papou

Today, as I mentioned, is Palm Sunday and one of the days during the 6 weeks of Lent that everyone eats fish.  K is cooking fish soup made from salt cod, which has been well de-salted.  

In Greek Orthodox churches today the faithful who attend are given small crosses made from palm branches.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Sea Views

Oh it has been so nice and quiet.
But on today's walk out in the wop-wops 2 unknown cars passed me and two tourists on bikes.  The 2 foreign girls hailed me with a cheerful 'Kalimera' so I answered with my own loud 'kalimera', even though 'kalimera' is good morning and it was 6pm in the evening.  Good on them for learning a greek word.

It's easter hols for a lot of the world and greek schools close tomorrow for 2 weeks to celebrate the Orthodox easter.  The island is going to be full, especially for the greek easter.  We are a popular destination, a greek island close to Athens.   One you can drive your car to.  Darn it



A greek beach in winter with a lone fisherman.  A peaceful way to spend the day watching the waves and waiting for a line to to start jiggling.
Next month it will only be late night fishing.  Day time this beach will be crowded


Looking towards the big tourist hotel on the point.
That's where I worked the first summer I arrived in Greece


Looking across the bay to the main town



Another empty beach where soon there will be lines of sunbeds and baking bods

 

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Famous People

 Famous in our family.  One of our rowing grandaughters won a gold in the national competition.


Here she is.  Our rowing champ holding the cup high, resplendent in her bright yellow crocs and dark socks.  

That child always stands out.  One way or another you just can't miss her.  


The big shiny cup and her medal
You're Our Number One


Here's Poppi in the skiff, a few years younger


And the other half of the Famous Bitouni Sisters.
Nels has given up rowing to study in Athens but her cups and medals remain and fill up a few shelves in her bedroom

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Photos on a Walk

A winter landscape.


Looking down towards the olives and grapevines 
The olives are being trimmed and the branches burnt.
The fire ban will begin soon

 




Another view from my walk on the road above
A small family plot of grapevines
They should be trimmed by now, ready for Spring growth.


Up at the ruins of the 
Temple to the Greek God of the Seas, Poseidon




A 'dig' in the olive groves
All this area was a port city with Temples and markets, houses and shops.  Now its olive groves with goats grazing.  Swedish archeologists come and dig for a couple of weeks every summer.  Slowly we are learning more about the area.


An olive tree surrounded by ancient stones


Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Eating Well

 Eating well without meat. During the 6 weeks of Lent you're not supposed to eat meat, fish (except on certain fiesta days), eggs, cheese, milk and on Wednesdays and Fridays no olive oil. Allowed are shellfish, octopus, squid and cuttlefish


We are not fasting this Lent but K will probably follow the Orthodox   rules during the last week of Lent, called Holy Week.


However, a lot of the food we eat falls into the fasting description.  Some of these photos have appeared in other posts but these are a few of the dishes we eat that are approved by the church 



Giant beans in the top of the photo and taramasalata, fish roe dip at the bottom. Oops, the beans are with sausages. Much tastier.


Spinach and cuttlefish
Red wine is not on the list of banned foods and drinks thank goodness


Okra and tomatoes
We usually add chicken to this dish but its just fine this way too

Giant beans, cooked without sausages this time.


Stuffed tomatoes.  Meatless.  The filling is rice, onions and lots of parsley, mint and a few raisins

We've eaten green beans and tomatoes, lentil soup. We eat lentils or beans a couple of times a week all year round.


Today we are eating chickpea soup with a side of grilled fish leftover from Sundays Bbq. The fish have an olive oil and lemon dressing





Monday, 11 April 2022

Coff coff coff Coffee Time

After many weeks, maybe months we visited a harbourside coffee shop for a coffee and some people watching.  The weather was  sunny and warm but we sat in the shade as one does here, wrapped up in our jackets.  April is not summer unless you're a visitor from the frozen north. 


Our old haunt, the T-Cafe has been taken over by the younger generation and re-vamped .  It is now the 'Retro' Cafe and is advertised as serving brunch.  Why the Retro cafe I don't know.  I don't know what they're serving for brunch either.  The cafe is now run by the son and daughter-in-law.  K went to school with the Dad who retired in November.  As an  old friend, and very good friend,we always got special service and often special prices here.  Now the Dad is off tending to his olive trees, gardening and tending his land as he has wanted to do for years.  We pay the price which is printed on the menu.  The prices were fine though, especially considering recent inflation.  3.20 euros for a freddo espresso and 2.50 for a double greek coffee. 

But the atmosphere is not the same without the old familiar company.  Old customers have drifted off to other cafes during the 4 months it was closed.  Old customers who came every day but sat for hours over a greek coffee and brought their own 'brunch' with them, as we often did, a sesame roll or a cheese pie.  We won't feel so comfortable bringing our own 'brunch' anymore.  And our company has gone.  It will be interesting to see if this remains a 'K approved' cafe or whether we will move on as well.

The inside of the cafe looks wonderful, light and bright and there seems to be much more room.  No boxes of supplies in the corners and crates of old bottles.  Not yet anyway.  I haven't seen the loos but they were always nice and clean so that won't have changed.  The outside seating area is much the same though they have replaced the chairs and sofas with new ones.  Much like the old.  But now on one side is a wide screen tv.  It's on all day tuned to one of the sports channels.  That's a plus for me.  It's something else to watch when greek mens' conversations get long winded and boring.  Unfortunately it was showing motor racing when we were there.  Yawn.



One thing hasn't changed.  Poros is still safe and we are well known.  We see the price of the coffees, leave the change on the table, stand up and walk off without being chased down the street and accused of not paying.  We often do that here.  No-one will steal the money, hopefully, and the waiter knows that if he sees us leave then the money will be sitting beside the ticket on the table.  It's an old system which is slowly dying out, except perhaps in small villages or an island like ours where we are all known and trusted.

We wouldn't do it in mid-summer mind you.  Far too many shady characters wandering about

 

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Boats..The End

 



Here is Captain Kyriakos launching the Socrates for the short trip to the mainland


This is what happens when the family arrives from down under.
Fun and games on the Socrates .
A short trip around the harbour always ends with a swim somewhere and the kids all leap off the top of the cabin






Getting ready to bomb the oldies


Time to cruise. Bring your own coffee and picnic




And here we have Arion, the fishing ca├»que .  Retrieving  fish from nets. 


This is an old photo of Arion floating peacefully in  the calm waters of Neorion Bay


No action photos of  'Danae' but here she is back at her moorings. She is no longer leaking so they pushed her out of the shallows and back to the dock. The engine is fixed. The exhaust needs some tweaking and then she go for a trial run around the harbour.








Monday, 4 April 2022

More Boats

The greek family have three boats, one for pleasure fishing, one a water taxi and the third is a caique with a professional fishing licence.




Here's the 'Danae' bobbing like a cork in rough seas having finally been launched after having her bottom cleaned and painted.  Unfortunately the engine now has a problem and she's sprung a leak, probably because of being out of the water for so long.  She's a wooden boat and wood shrinks.

This is K's boat.  When he retired from the Navy his dream was to own a small boat and spend his days fishing, for family and friends.

This is what he did for many years, spending long hours during the day happily putting a line overboard and just catching enough to keep us all supplied with fresh fish.  I rarely went with him.  Spending hours cooped up in a small noisy, smelly boat was not my idea of happiness. Actually getting on board was precarious. You have to scramble over the front. A scrambler I am not!!  Now he's over the fishing part of his life and is looking around for another hobby.  Which he hasn't found yet, darn it.

The boat we keep for visitors for fishing trips around the  Island, though it will probably he sold .


You can hardly see them but on the horizon are a line of yachts all with sails up and scudding along with the wind 


Son-in-law jumps from boat to shore and back again as they try to get the engine going.  And the pumps.  The engine does spring into life but she's missing a beat


Here he is pushing his own fishing boat, the Arion, into the water after having a leak bunged.  Arion has a professional licence and he is allowed to put out nets.





Arion homeward bound

In the end the Arion towed Danae around the bays to her permanent mooring.  Then she was pushed into the shallows so she doesn't sink.

Experts are inspecting and hopefully she'll soon be sea worthy

Boats and cars are more than toys. They need lots of TLC and money poured into them





Other son-in-law is Captain of the water taxi Socrates.  He plies the straits between the island and the mainland.