Sunday 29 May 2022

Red Wine in the Mani


Writing about the amount of wine in  my glass  the other day 
reminded me of a fancy hotel we stayed at once in the Mani. I won a holiday, three nights at the hotel, with local breakfast, fried bread twists. Oh boy.  It was a competition on tv and its the first time I won something big .

 I had always wanted to go down to the Mani. It is a peninsular in Southern Greece, mountainous, a dry barren landscape, wild and beautiful.  The villages are characterised by their tower-houses where they holed up in times of feud or warfare.   

Our hotel was built out of the local stone with thick walls and a view of the rocky bay below .  It looked impressive but it wasn't.  The hairdryer caught fire when I used it.  There were only 2 bent wire hangers in the cupboard.  No curtains on the doors or windows and we were on the ground floor with people walking past.  There were shutters but in summer you need a light curtain to have privacy but also let in the breeze.  The inner walls must have been made out of paste board.  We heard every loo flush and every footstep outside in the hall.   The breakfasts were vast with lots of local produce but the one meal we had there, and paid for, was disappointing.  

Me, about twelve years ago 

Mani is a long way from Poros. We had been driving hours in the hot September sun . So when we checked in I wandered out onto the hotel terrace for a glass of wine. The glass was big and fancy but the red wine was barely visible above its long elegant stem. And it was warm. Warmer than room temperature. Can't remember the price but I do remember the wine. We went out to a grocery and bought a bottle and put it in the fridge in the room .  Cheap and cold and enjoyed on our balcony with a view of the hills opposite.

Nowadays I would have sent it back and complained, about the temperature anyway.  And I would have filled it up with ice.   Summer drinks need to be cold, icy.

View from the hotel
Oitylo Bay

The Hotel

K looking happy.  He must have just consumed a cold beer.  He didn't want to visit Mani and grumbled a lot .
Mani is a long peninsular and we only visited the top of it.  One day I would love to go back and see the rest, further south.  We were only in Outer Mani. 

Added to that his football team Olympiakos was playing an important game and we couldn't find a cafe with a TV so he could watch the match.  He was seething.  For a long time

A taverna down the road where we holed up on the last day, eating and drinking under the shade of it's spreading plane trees.  K liked the wine and the food thank goodness but there weren't many locals to talk too.  Wine and food without debate, discussion and dissent is not his idea of a good time

In the old town of Areopoli.  He found a traditional cafe which made him happy for a while and then he discovered a butcher's shop which sold the local salted pork.  A slightly happier man.

The villages in Inner Mani were built for protection from vendettas with neighbours, pirates and tyrants .  The Maniots were fearless, strong, long independent from the rest of Greece.    Even the Turks couldn't control them during the 400 years of Ottoman occupation. 

One day I shall return.  On my own.  I will explore ruined villages, clamber around old fortresses, eat wild honey from local hives, sample the sea salt still gathered from the rocky coast, walk to the gates of Hades at Cape Tenaro and sleep in one of those tower houses.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Pics of Nothing in Pic-ticular


A roadside shrine.  They usually mark the place of an accident.  They are put up either as a memorial or a thank you for a near miss.  This shrine is just to mark the little church down the dirt track behind it, as far as I know.  It's on a flat piece of road, no curves or bumps.

No place for an accident though we do have a few teenage hooligans on the island who do wheelies and race each other on motor bikes with broken exhausts around here.  These bits of straight road up in the hills are ideal for that.  Unfortunately we can hear the noise, especially at 2am and so can our neighbours dotted here and there amongst the once peaceful countryside.

Last summer when we had all the windows open to get a bit of breeze or were sleeping outside they were damned annoying. 

We waited for someone else to call the police. No one did. 

No one wants to start a vendetta with local families, most of whom are friends or relatives. 


The new norm. Not the soda or the nice glass but the amount of wine in that fancy glass.
Before the café was redecorated, renamed and taken over by the younger generation that glass would have been brought to me full of red wine. The wine is the same, drinkable, the price has gone up a little but boo-hoo, the level has dipped down into the doldrums.

Soda saves the day. I filled up the glass with soda and turned it into red champan-izé . As the weather gets warmer a few ice cubes and a fill-up with soda makes it a lighter drink.

An addition to our neighbourhood sign.
'F*** you, we are from Athens'
A thank you from those damn Greek tourists who jam up our roads and beaches, clutter up our cafes and tavernas, stop in the middle of the road to admire the view, push into the queue at the supermarket, click their fingers at the waiter and expect first service.


Thursday 19 May 2022


 First taverna visit of the summer season. We celebrated our 43 wedding anniversary.  My traditional greek husband and I went to eat at a traditional greek island taverna beside the sea.  One of our favourites.  The owner is a great friend.  The view is across the harbour to the mainland and  closer is the classical building of the Naval  training Base.  We discuss with the waiter not only what's hot in the kitchen but how we all got through the winter and the health of both our families.

Later on our older daughter and son-in-law join us for a happy hour or so of chit-chat, sea food and the taverna's fresh cooked zucchini chips with a spicy feta dip.  The wine was the taverna's best local.  With a bit of soda and sprite it slipped down quicker than it should have. 

Looking across the the Navy training school

What the tourists eat.  Moussaka, stuffed tomatoes or meatballs and a greek salad

Looking in from the road.  The lighting is dim.  It was right on dusk.  Early for greeks who prefer to dine late but a good time for us who linger

A table right on the water.  We chose to sit a little further inside protected from the wind by a plastic curtain.  We got the view without the chill.  No hot summer heat yet

Sunday 15 May 2022


Zouzounia are bugs and flying things.  It's a word used often by a greek Yiayia to describe an overactive grandchild.

The summer bugs have started to appear.  Last night we had the first  mosquito of the season buzzing round our bed and I had to get up and plug in the mosquito repellant device.  In an older part of the house as I was doing some cleaning I heard the soft 'click click' of a small lizard.  Unfortunately the mosquito wasn't in the same room.  The lizard, a gecko I think, could have had a nice meal.

The big black ants have surfaced in the garden.  They mainly stay there.  The tiny ants that are hardly larger than tealeaves haven't appeared out of the walls yet.  I suppose we will see them just before the next rain.  The smaller ants are a harbinger of bad weather.  What we don't want are the red ants which give a very nasty nip.

Daddy Long Legs drift up and down the big balcony doors. It always amuses me when certain locals remark how big the 'mosquitoes' are this year. 

As I mentioned in another post this is the year of the snail and the caterpillar. The latter are turning into yellow and white butterflies. They flutter around the geranium flowers. 

In the last few years we have had hordes of praying mantisses, grasshoppers and other jumpers. They are not around yet or maybe this is not their year. 

There are no flies or wasps yet. I have found a few frogs in the garden, hiding in dark corners. I hope they don't disappear.

We were talking with a neighbour last night about the wild life here. When we first bought this house the fields were full of partridges and pheasants.  Now there are none.

We still hear birdsong in the early morning and we've seen a few swallows. There used to be a lot of blackbirds who trilled at dawn but they are few and far between.  Most of the birds are magpies, a few sparrows and we still see a hawk or two hanging in the sky searching for prey.

Spiders are always around. I can tell that by the darn spider webs hanging in every corner, big, black from the fire, and sagging undecoratively. The house badly needs a spring clean.

The carpets need taking up and cleaning, the outdoor spaces need to be water blasted ready for summer living, winter clothes have to be packed away.

Give me a glass of red wine, quickly. Fill it up with ice. It's too warm to drink at room temperature .

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Inside Out

Nothing much has been happening around here.  Warm days.  One coffee downtown.  Plenty of foreign tourists around and some of the semi-permanent ex-pats have returned for the summer.  

One of the family homes.  

 The terrace has been turned into an outdoor room, covered by a skylight which protects from rain and lets in the light.

Molly the old english sheep dog surveys her new  territory

Poppi fills up Papou's glass with cold.....water!
That table top is an incredibly heavy piece of beautiful marble

Outdoor decor

The heavy old furniture gets a new life

Love those dolphins

Sunday 8 May 2022


 The weather is finally warm enough for a little outdoor eating

K sits down and leaves the grilling to his son in law

Chief BBQer and sometimes bottle washer
My sons-in-law are good guys.  They always clean up afterwards and haul away the rubbish

On the menu
Grilled squid and grilled fish in an olive oil and lemon sauce
Accompanied by boiled greens
And wine

Thursday 5 May 2022

Whats Up. Gardening version

I have been watching prepping-your-garden videos for weeks now getting ready to plant a few tomatoes, green peppers and aubergines.

About two months ago I dug trenches in my garden area.  Very small trenches.  I filled them with household scraps and then covered them with soil.  6 weeks later all those scraps had turned to compost and the soil is ready for planting.  I've been adding pureed egg shells and banana skins, coffee grounds, a small amount of ash and some other 'natural' fertiliser.  I did the same in half a dozen pots, compost on the bottom, soil on top and  I've done a good mixing of soil and compost soil.  Now I wait to see if the plants like this combo.  I have planted 3 tomatoes, one pepper and one aubergine, 2 basil plants and 3 pumpkin/squash.   I'm waiting for more plants from our neighbour, elderly Vaso's son, who grows his own from last years seeds. He has taken over from Vaso, tending the land so he and Vaso can live off it's bounty.

The garden seems to have an awful lot of snails this year.  I thrown them all over into next doors driveway.  They haven't arrived from blighty yet and the driveway is a snails' jungle paradise.   The other thing we seem to have a lot of this year is caterpillars.  I'm finding them everywhere, in the garden and all around.  I presume they  will turn into cabbage white butterflies or their yellow cousin.  Whatever they are they get squashed.

The wilder part of the garden with the remainder of my wonderful nasturtiums and the picturesque and rusting wheelbarrow

The grapevine seems to be enjoying the compost.  Looks like we may get a decent crop of grapes this summer.  Last year there were quite a few but they withered and dried before they had time to ripen

One of the basil plants
Mint in the garden behind it

My rose geranium
I make a liqueur with red wine from its leaves and flowers
I cut it right back to the ground a few weeks ago but it too is growing well, loving the 'natural' fertiliser

This plant with the white flowers is called a 'pascalia' in Greek and flowers near easter.  I've had it for almost 5 years and this is the first time it has flowered
The english translation seems to be lilac

Our neighbour's lilac.  His really is a lilac colour and it smells wonderful

I don't know what these magnificent trumpet like flowers are
They are growing outside a taverna we visited last week

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Fish on a Tile

 A tuna sort of fish baked in the oven on a roof tile.

The head is cut off and it's given a good wash to get rid of all the blood.  And it's gutted of course.  Then onto that roof tile, a few slices of lemon, and that's fresh oregano.  Into the oven for 40 minutes and it's ready ....almost

Once it's cooked and cooled a little.  I have to take out the backbone and remove the tail.  I break up what's left and put it into a deep dish.  Then I make an oil and lemon sauce with a little salt, mustard and dried oregano.  This is poured over the fish and we are ready to go.  It's eaten preferably with a green leafy salad or some sort of boiled greens.

The only part I don't like is the darker meat .  It is very strong and fishy.  Fortunately there's not too much of that and I can separate it from the rest of the flesh. K enjoys the stronger taste.

Gordon Ramsey once got served steak on a roof tile on his show Kitchen Nightmares.  

Photo thanks to 

He was a  bit confused by it all and as you can see the restaurant owner received  the classic 'f' reaction.  But apparently the steak was the toughest, chewiest filet mignon he had ever tried . 

Not exactly fine dining and a waste of good steak.  But fish on a tile, well, that's another story and it does not get served on the tile!   

Sunday 1 May 2022

May Day

 A public holiday, supposedly for workers but workers here were labouring overtime. Because May Day falls on Sunday it has been transferred to Monday, another 3 day weekend. The island is full again.

The weather has been warm but changing now. Looks as though Monday is going to be grey and wet. Not cold though.

Most of our covid restrictions come to an end today. Hooray.

Traditionally there are protest marches, riots and Molotov cocktails in Athens. Workers march for better conditions and pay. I'm waiting to see the news and see what's happened this year.

Traditionally we pick wild flowers and make a wreath to hang on the front door. Last year my wreath ended up as a big bouquet and I hung it on the front gate. I did the same this year. There were plenty of bright flowers in the neighbourhood but I've  lost the knack of forming the wreath and fixing the flowers. I used to cut a bendy olive branch as the base. I just couldn't get it to form a circle and the string I was using was nylon and slippery. 

My bouquet.