Thursday 28 July 2022

Health Care

I had to go to a rural hospital for an appointment with the gynocologist.  I usually sing the praises of these hospitals.  And did last time.  I stayed in overnight for a scrape and biopsy.  The results came back very quickly.  Negative for all nasties.

But there has to be further treatment, an operation.  One of those women's things.  The gyno doc is retiring and expects to get leave in the next week or so and not return.  He doesn't want to perform the operation.  He's done enough of them and anyway the necessary materials are not available just now.  **Often in a case like this you presumed the doctor just wanted a little extra and a discreet but bulging plain envelope did the trick.  This doctor really is tired.  He tried to put us off in every way he could.  His final suggestion was that I go back to my 'native land' to get it done.  That rather flabbergasted us.  Go home?  I think he presumed I was a refugee from Romania or Hungary or another Balkan state and had found a rich greek to marry. It has been many many years since we have run into someone who does not know where NZ is in the world.  He came out with Finland?, no.  Then finally seemed to remember a land in the mist down near Australia.  He really has been working hard, hasn't had time to learn about current affairs, geography and certainly no time to learn a little of the english language.  No, I don't expect the whole world to speak english but it seems strange.

The hospital does what it can for foreigners.  There was an elderly english gent there with his wife who had broken her leg.  He had been sent along to the secretary's office to get the right papers.  Everyone in the queue helped him out and he wasn't refused treatment for his wife because he didn't have his passport and was not in the greek system.  

I hope he finds the nurses as friendly and helpful as I did on my overnight stay.  They went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable even keeping my lunch back so I could eat a few hours after the biopsy.   The Matron was friendly with a sense of humour.  

So what do I do now? The doctor also told us that no other doctor had been appointed in his place.  He told us too that most rural hospitals cut back on staff over the summer and only urgent surgeries were being done.  Mine's not urgent so we have till October to find another solution.  K will start to make phone calls.  There are 2 other rural hospitals but we could possibly use the Naval Hospital in Athens or one of the General hospitals in Piraeus.  All perfectly fine except we don't want to go into Athens or Piraeus.  'Tha thoume', we will see.

We filled up on petrol over on the mainland and were pleased to see the price had gone down by a few cents.  The car ferry ticket however had risen from 6.80 euros to 9.70 euros.  That's a helluva an increase , especially when petrol prices are no longer sky rocketing.

A trip to the closest city, Nafplio, now costs us almost twice what it did before Russia began the war.  It's still far cheaper than going into Athens either by car, boat or fast hydrofoil.  Another reason we prefer these rural towns.

Nafplio is just over an hour away and if we choose the right day there is also a very big farmers market selling everything from lettuces to lingerie.  We know where to park, where to find good coffee, really good bread and K has his special 'old mens' cafe where he loves to sit, drink a litre of local wine and enjoy a plate of little fishes.  

It was 38oC on the day we went .  We left very early in the morning and got there before the heat of the day hit us.  I was prepared to be exhausted but thankfully there was aircondition everywhere, especially in our car.  It was too hot to contemplate going through the german supermarket but we stopped on the way back for a quick coffee and I dashed into the Greek supermarket next door.  That was my thrill of the day.  A bigger supermarket than the one on the island.  I got a few essentials and a few non-essentials.  

Then home for a cold shower.

**In days of old people thought if you didn't pay the doc under the table then he wouldn't look after you. Some doctors demanded it even in a free public hospital.  This is illegal now although  often a couple of  50euro notes are handed over as 'thanks'.

Sunday 24 July 2022

Bulgarian Salad No 1

 No, not a Greek salad, but a Bulgarian salad made the No. 1 spot on the survey of food website, TasteAtlas.   In fact two Bulgarian salads made the top 10.

 1 - Ovcharska salad 

 2 - Shopska 

The greek salad, 'dakos' with tomato, feta and olive oil on a hard rusk, came in at no.3 and the classic Greek salad (country salad, horiatiki) was at no.8.  

All this from the greek news website in english, greekreporter.

Hardly worth noting really.  Salads just need a bit of imagination and some fresh ingredients.   I looked up these Bulgarian salads and they are worth a try. Shopska is the simple version of the other.  The Ovcharska looks darn tasty though to eat it at its best you surely need the traditional cheese and like everything, you need to be there sampling the local atmosphere.

Ovcharska Salad...... 

Thanks to

And what's in it?

- Tomatoes chopped
- Cucumber chopped
- Green pepper or baked red pepper. I'd use red peppers from a jar
- Onion sliced
- Pickled mushrooms. Not sure about these. I'd probably put some sliced mushrooms in vinegar. Or maybe lightly fry some
- White bulgarian sirene cheese. Here I'd use feta. Grated or crumbled. Or maybe I'd just grate my favourite yellow cheese
- Chopped ham. Looks like thick chunks
 - Hard boiled eggs chopped
- Salt to taste
- Parsley
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil
- 5 olives for decor

Put it all in a big bowl and mix up with the oil and vinegar

Bulgaria is one of our neighbours, on the northern border with Greece. I follow a couple of blogs written by English expats who have built houses in Bulgaria.  The best is

Claire Rushton is a British writer. She and her husband moved to Bulgaria to grow vegetables, collect cats and live a slower life. Hers is another fascinating and well written blog. She is a vegan and has a load of really tasty dishes, Bulgarian and otherwise. But her blog is not only food. She writes about real life in Bulgaria with humour and without using incomprehensible Bulgarian words.

She's also on Instagram as

Tuesday 19 July 2022

A Post

 I have covid. Tested positive a week ago. Still positive. A positive person, as my daughter says. Had a few days of flu symptoms, took it easy, and am still doing so. Good excuse. It's hot and I'm bothered.

I feel fine but can't be bothered with blogs, annoying people or constant whining. Not to say the three go together. 

I went through social media lists and cleared out all the annoying people I was following or who followed me. Then I cleaned the floors. And went out into the garden and ripped out all unproductive plants. Made me feel much better.

Daughters gathered around doing shopping and giving advice.

K has been negative throughout.

The one interesting happening all week were some very low flying big passenger planes. They sounded as though they were preparing to land in the bay below. But they continued on to Athens. I had fascinating views of their under carriages from the terrace.  

Today there are fires on the outskirts of Athens. Cool breezes which will turn into a heatwave by the weekend.

Hopefully I'll be out by then and able to swim again.

Our local beach had a big cleanup which we should have been part of.  No photos of it on Facebook. Or not that I've been told about anyway. Not much communication at the moment in our house. 

How the hell did I get the dreaded lurgy and not him. I hadn't been out for days. Whose evil eye poisoned me.

Sunday 10 July 2022

1 am Fears and Thoughts

 1am plus 8 minutes. I had to get up to have a pee. I lie down. The window above the bed is wide open with only  mosquito netting. Dammit  I can smell smoke. 

I had a look out but no flames, no glow in the sky. It's sort of a stale ash smell so I hope it's only smoke drifting over from wild fires on the mainland . Or my 1am imagination .

Now I have to try and get back to sleep.   I can't of course.

Maybe it's just a wet earth smell. That was strong this afternoon. Dry brown earth dampened down after a short sharp shower.

Elsewhere there was bad flooding. Most unusual for July. Our climates have been tossed and tumbled. West of us Europe has been having heatwaves. Here we are still happily surviving afternoon heat with a fan or a seat in the shade and a bit of a breeze . 

No ants this year. How odd. They used to come out in force before rain was due, invading the bread bin, the closed honey jar and any food left on the bench for half a minute. Don't know how many times I've had to wash a plate of fish or meat to get rid of ants before sealing the dish in the fridge, the only place they can't raid. 

Of course I check my phone. Some messages from NZ where, thanks to an app on my phone, I know it's 10.08 am.

Two messages from yesterday. One glad, one sad. A new addition to our family and a departure.

Do you have clusters of family dates? New borns, a new generation coming in on birthdates of other members of the family?  We have quite a few. For a start my oldest grandson was born on my birth date.

And then there's the number 26. It pops up many times in the family calendar. And now numbers 8 and 3.

3 am . Getting chilly. Time to cover up with a sheet. And turn off YouTube where I've been listening to a video/vlog on glitches in the matrix. Entertaining bosh. 

K is happily snorting in the next room. He couldn't sleep and moved out earlier so as not to disturb me. I'm awake anyway. 

Maybe I should listen to a sleep meditation but the voices grate and annoy.

Roll over and sleep girl!!  So I did. Until 6am when I was woken by thunder and heavy rain. Had to get up and close windows . 

Saturday 9 July 2022

Mediterranean Lunch

 Fresh and healthy with an overload of olive oil.

It doesn't bear thinking about the calories. So I don't. I'll be going swimming this afternoon. A little exercise will balance em out. Weather permitting. The north wind blows rubbish straight on to our local beach.  I don't like swimming amongst bits of plastic and I don't like being slapped in the face by a sudden surge of seawater.

Aubergines, bought at the market on Friday morning.  Fried and topped with a tomato sauce, made by me, with a fresh tomato, garlic and parsley.  I still amaze myself at the amount of olive oil I use to fry these things.  Aubergines really do soak up oil like a sponge but that's the way m-in-law and her mother did it so that's what I do.  

If I was cooking the aubergine for some dish in the oven, like moussaka,  I would bake them with a lick of oil but to fry them to a nice crispy-ness you do need plenty of oil.

Fish fresh from the boat, also fried in oil.  Delicious.  

Greens and big watery zucchini, called pitsouni, boiled and served with oil and garlic and vinegar.  Most greens are doused in lemon juice but this particular variety needs vinegar apparently.  Called vlita in Greek.  

Here I can avoid the oil.  Everyone adds their own according to taste.

K drank a glass of local wine and I had a few slugs of water. I haven't had any alcohol for over a month. 

We didn't go swimming.  There was a very sudden and unexpected shower of rain.  By the time I had rushed out to bring in the washing and roll up the car windows it was almost over.  If I was a child I would have been charging down to the beach to swim in the rain.  Not any longer. Been there, done that.  

I loaded all our rubbish onto the quad boat and took it to the big bins at the top of the road instead.

Friday 8 July 2022

Getting it Off My Chest

First our dear neighbour Turkey or Türkiye as it now calls itself. The difference? None. 

I listen to the news and recognise their leader's voice. Time to change channels.   

Greek news says that he's  unpopular in his own country, (Türkiye), and their economy is going to crash. But their news tells another story.
 Their news, so we are told, paints Greece as the aggressor, the grabber of Türkiyesh homeland. They demand all the islands near their coast, and there are quite a few of those, some within spitting distance.  
Their economic crisis, the leader says, is the fault of foreign powers.  Blah blah blah

Why do I even bother writing all this. I usually don't . 

 Blogger Rachel is so spot on when she says her day is far more enjoyable without listening to news broadcasts.

Last year there was a string of wife killings which filled our news bulletins for weeks on end. Now it's sons killing their mothers. And wives are still being dispatched as well. 

Meantime I watched a programme on the island of Crete. A French woman presents it. How bloody one sided she is. She met shepherds and milked a sheep, boring, yawn. She visited the mountain village of Anoyia and K and I laughed out loud. She presented it as the music capital of Greece, full of friendly, happy peasants. It certainly is the birthplace of some great Cretan musicians but it's notoriety, not fame, is for being the centre of family feuds, shoot-outs and vendettas. Oh and don't forget the police blockades and drug running. It's certainly a village well known all over Greece.

Her cameraMan 'shot' all the men out in the main square in the evening playing music and drinking. One big happy family she said. Belly laugh.

And not once in the whole bloody programme did she ask where the darn women were or why in that square at night with the men eating and drinking she was the only woman present.

Makes me wonder about all the other island programmes I've seen her present. When you don't know you just believe her balderdash, don't question. 

She's off my list!

I'll stick to Hercule Poirot. He's on every evening for 2 hours of happy viewing. I've seen all the episodes, some three or four times. The Greeks must like old Agatha because the show has been going on for a couple of months. I like the englishness of it. K doesn't watch but it's at a time he's busy with other things and I'm left alone.

Gotta be thankful for that

There's more I could write but I've just had a big Mediterranean lunch and it's siesta time.

Thursday 7 July 2022

Pease Pudding Cold

 Split pea purée, fava in Greece, is indeed very similar to the English please pudding. It can be eaten hot but is preferred cold. Around here it's mixed with oodles of olive oil and eaten with raw sliced onion.

I have made a small batch. Ours will be accompanied by a Greek salad and a few fried fish which K picked up from the kaïki on the waterfront this morning.

The split peas are washed before boiling. In years gone by I had to go through them carefully and remove sticks and stones. Now they seem to have perfected their pre-packaging cleaning system 

I boiled them slowly for around 40 minutes with a chopped onion. Then I whizzed them with the stick blender. A little salt and they are ready.

Well, 'almost' ready. First I had to stir in about half a wine glass of olive oil, only the best and freshest, and chop some onion.

In other areas they cooked with or accompanied by capers, caramelised onions, garlic, thyme or lemon juice.  I came across a Morrocan recipe which added paprika and cumin.  Both would go perfectly.  But not in this household.

Wednesday 6 July 2022 church involved

Summer is the time for lots of celebrating.  But then so is winter, spring and autumn here.

The Nemean Games took place over 24-26 June this year.  If you want to take part in an ancient athletic competition then make a note  for 2024.  The runners are grouped by age and gender and run, or walk, a 90 metre course. Competitors come from all over the world and anyone from 8 years to 'whatever' can enter.  There are no medals, just a fun day knowing you have run, barefoot, 'on the same earth where ancient feet ran some 2,300 years ago'.

For more info look up 

Meanwhile on the little island down in the Cyclades called Schinousa the split pea festival was taking place.  Split peas in greek are called 'fava'.  The island is famous in Greece for its yellow split peas.  My traditional person loves them and they are an important part of our summer menu.  His mother used to make fava puree on days when she was making the weeks bread.  Slices of her bread, hot from the communal oven, dipped in the families fresh olive oil and smothered in fava was the order of the baking day.  And you needed it after carrying great heavy pans of bread to and from from the local bakery.  The sourdough had been rising since the previous evening and she got up well before dawn to knead the loaves.  When they had been formed and then left to rise it was the job of all the women to and children to haul them off to be baked and make sure they went into the big oven before they had over proofed.

Visitors to the  festival on Schinousa can sample the split peas of course along with wine.  This year everyone was encouraged to bring their own glass so no plastic glasses would pollute the environment. As at any greek festival there was music and dancing for anyone to join in.

You didn't think you'd get away without any religion did you?  July and August are just one religious festival after another especially on the islands.

June 24 - St John of the Fires (mid summer elsewhere)

June 28 - Agioi (Saints) Anargyroi

June 29 - Petros and Pavlos (Peter and Paul)

July 1 - Kosmas and Damianos

July 1 - One of our local churches dedicated to the Holy Belt has a small celebration

July 7 - Saint Kyriaki.  There's a fiesta on the nearby island of Angistri

July 17 - Saint Marina

July 20 - Profit Elijah.  Another small church near us has its fiesta

July 23 - Saint Pelargia

July 25 - One of the fiesta days of Saint Anne

July 26 - Saint Paraskevi.  Another small church near us.

And there are more fiestas to be sure.  Every island, town, village has its own Saint and its special fiesta.