Wednesday 6 December 2023

Xmas and More

Erdogan, Turkish President is visiting Greece tomorrow. He will be staying 4 hours. Enough to get in a few meetings, have a Greek lunch and hopefully leave without any incidents.  He will be travelling with 3 planes and 3 limos, all reinforced with 14cms of steel, protection against chemical attacks and heaven knows what else. 
 Greece and Turkey are talking. 

I had to go and give some blood early this morning for a thyroid test. I've already had the results. All normal. 
The lab was beautifully decorated for Xmas. It was a delight to enter. There were garlands, wreaths, lights, Santa's and baubles all through the rooms. It was bright and cheery

The cafes, offices and shops all have Xmas decor 
Poros is starting to look very merry

I made a few jars of pickled onions
And the first Xmas cakes which I have given away. 
I call them Xmas cakes but they're really only boiled fruit cake with a few extra spices and a couple of shots of whisky poured over them

Our Xmas crackers arrived, from Athens. 
The Chinese giants Shein and Temu had 6 crackers for 22 euros. They didn't look anything special. 
So I looked at the Greek giant, the chain called Jumbo. They've really got on the Xmas wagon. 
1 packet of 4 crackers for 4 euros. Perfect. I bought 3 packets and a packet of festive paper napkins with gnomes on them. All for much less than 22 euros. 

Last weekend we celebrated 5 Sagitarrean birthdays, including mine. 
71 and counting. 
An absent Grandson turned 22.
2x17 year olds and a 50-something.
It was a good day. 
The girls polished off some Prosecco and a bottle of excellent Marlborough (NZ) sauvignon blanc. 
The boys drank the wine recently received from the family vineyards near Corinth. 
Stuffed chicken roll and potatoes, with gravy, down our end of the table. Boiled lamb, tzatziki and fried innards down the other end. 

Today, 6th December, is St Niks day. Name day for Niks and Nikoletas. He's Patron Saint of the Greek Navy so there was a church service and parade of his icon round the Navy Base. We should have gone too but went to the blood lab instead and then had early morning coffee on the waterfront. 


Friday 1 December 2023

Olive Oil

The olive season around here is more of less over. Most of our neighbours  gathered their olives but it was a short picking season. Weeks instead of months.
Some trees had olives, others right next to them had none.
Some neighbours thought it wasn't  worth the effort this year.

5-6 kilos of olives  produced a litre of oil.  That's about average 

Picking in the paddock next door, playground of wild goats. Even though the trees have been left to the elements and had their lower branches stripped by the goats they still produce olives most years.

  The land is owned by a family in Athens who have been trying to sell it for a long time.  The olives are picked by relatives on the island and the family takes a small percentage of the oil.

Years ago they were asking 100,000 euros for the land.  It's a rough piece, long and narrow and in need of a bulldozer to clean it up. 
A fire hazard in summer.
I'm not sure how easy it will be to build on either. Archeological and forestry laws tie up everything here in red tape.

We had a couple of bad storms and if the nets aren't down then they fall to the ground and are the devil to collect.
Years ago the villagers wouldn't leave an olive unpicked from the tree or from the rocky ground underneath. Elderly women would be stooped double hunting out every last olive. Nowadays if it's not in the nets then forget it.

Choosing the best olives for preserving.  
These are my girls, all family. 
They harvested the tree in the garden, not for oil but for the olives.

Little Red Riding Hoods 
Collecting goodies for Grandpa 😄

K asked them to pick out a bag of black olives for him to salt. Every black olive is bashed with a hammer and then left in salt for a few days. You need to be a traditional Greek to enjoy these strong tasting wrinkly olives. 
The green ones are soaked in water for a week to get rid of the bitterness, then preserved in oil and vinegar. They're more to my taste.

Then it's pruning time.
Vaso and her family are out everyday cutting the olive trees down to size

Here is Vaso with her trusty shears (secateurs), bent over, snipping and cleaning the twigs from fallen branches. She is happy still, at 85, to be able to help. 
Her son with his chainsaw trims the trees . Vaso gets the bigger branches ready for firewood and her daughter drags any other branches into a pile for burning.

Soon the neighbourhood will be smokey from bonfires of these prunings. They have to be burnt as soon as possible. If they're left they attract insects which are detrimental to the tree and next year's harvest .

A few months ago we secured 2 x 17 litre tins of last year's oil before the price went up.
I don't how much it is going for now but it has more than doubled in price.

Wednesday 29 November 2023


Tuna on a tile. 

You've seen a similar photo before
Tuna cooked in the oven on a roof tile.
This one is well seasoned.  It has roasted a lot of tuna
Clean the tuna, let the blood drain out.  Stuff the belly and head cavity with lemon slices, garlic and oregano
Bake 40 minutes
Let it cool a bit.  Remove the flesh from the back bone and generously douse with a lemon and olive oil dressing.
  Juice from a couple of lemons, double that amount of olive oil, a little salt, a sprinkle of oregano, a squirt of mustard. 
Put that all in a screw jar and shake well.
Eat.  With a green salad, bread and wine

Spinach pie
Filling ... 
Spinach chopped and sweated, lots of chopped dill and fresh spring onions
One egg
Lots of grated or crumbled feta cheese. 
Mix well

Homemade pastry.......
400-450 grams all purpose flour
200 grams water
70 grams olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsps vinegar
Mix well and knead till soft and elastic
Let it rest 20 minutes and then divide in half.  Roll out each piece for top and bottom of the pie

What the hell
Something has turned my cauliflower and broccoli leaves into lace work.

Half a dozen caterpillars.  White cabbage butterflies?
Boy can they chomp through these plants.
But not any more.

Friday 24 November 2023

Dogs and Drugs

 To continue on from the last post.....

If you don't own a dog or are more of a cat person, like me, then big barking dogs are fearsome beasts. 

Years ago when we lived in town I used to walk around the smaller  island in the morning.  On the back road there was a small herd of sheep guarded by two dogs.  The sheep were usually found down a small bank near the sea and could only be heard but not seen.  Somewhere nearby were the dogs.  Every damn time I walked that road they would suddenly leap out at me barking and snarling.  

I knew more or less where they were but their appearance was  so sudden and so menacing that I almost had a heart attack.  I was so angry at being frightened that I would shriek at them and run passed.    In the end I stopped walking that way altogether.  It was too much for my nerves.

A few of our neighbours have hunting dogs but they are kept under control and are well fenced in.  Hunters are not keen on losing a good hound.  There's a sweet little white dog called Snoopy who runs free.  He barks like mad protecting the house and grounds but will actually wag his tail when approached.  He's the epitome of  'his bark is worse than his bite'.

Then there are the other dogs. Big and noisy. Behind fences but free. They follow me along the fence line barking and growling.

Unfortunately there are some on almost every route I take.

My girls both have dogs and I am quite happy to dog-sit them on occasion, and give them back again.  They are dogs I know and trust.  Unlike the 'strange' dogs I meet or hear on my daily ramblings.

Now for sneakers on  powerlines.

This appears to be a worldwide phenomenon.

They've appeared in Beijing, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Spain, Lebanon and now Poros. Australia apparently is a 'hotbed of errant show throwing'.

Wikipedia calls it 'folk sport' and there's a site called 'Shoefiti' that apparently tracks hanging shoes.

Does it mean

-that this is a place for drug deals

-or is it a commemoration of a wedding or the end of the school year. 

Scratching of head..??? Ehhhh?

-that someone was just bored and had nothing else to do with their old trainers.

-its simply a prank

-a young guy who lives nearby lost his virginity

-its a form of art

Heavens to mergatroyd, what else will I hear.

The only young boy who lives anywhere near is 10 years old and his idea of fun is doing wheelies on his bike so I'm crossing that off the list.

It's not the end of the school year and no one around here has got married recently.

A place for drug deals?

Beside the rubbish bins way out in the wop-wops? 

 It's out in the middle of nowhere but cars and bikes pass now and again and there are local farmers in their olive groves, herding sheep or cutting wood. Two shady characters hanging around under dangling shoes would stick out like a sore thumb.

There are drug dealers and users on the island but I doubt anyone would wind 5 kms up the mountain to get their dose. However whether it's true or it's an urban myth it's known even by my young granddaughter, who does Not buy drugs or use them.

As for it being a work of art.
No way! Naaa, not these ones.

I'm still voting for a stupid joke by the rubbish men who found an old pair of trainers in the bin, climbed up on top of the truck and tied them there.

I got bored googling the damn things. 

Wednesday 22 November 2023


Do you ever look up when you're outside?

A pair of athletic shoes hanging from the wires. 
They haven't just been slung up there from below . The laces look as though they are tied on.
Who?  Why ....well, why not?
From the top of the rubbish truck I'd say, by bored council workers.

It doesn't matter where I walk up here, I have to pass barking dogs.
These two seemed really dangerous, loud barks and big teeth.  K had a talk with their owner and he said they'd retreat if you shooed them away.
One was outside the other day and I told him to shut up (nicely of course) and he did lower the tone and backed up.  
When I took this photo I had to get closer, closer to the big fence. And they did retreat. 
Every time I took a step forward they took a step back.

All the other dogs are also behind tall fences and I hope they stay there.
Their barking is loud and insistent.
I have my trekking poles but they're all only for waving around. 
Once, a few years ago, I came upon a pack of dogs. 3 or 4 of them and they didn't look friendly. I retreated slowly and thank goodness they didn't follow .
They must have escaped from one of the rural parcels of land up here. Guardians of olive groves and rustic sheds.
Most of these are large dogs on the end of big chains.
 Thank goodness I've never seen them since.

Monday 20 November 2023

This and That

Now and again the sea rises and gushes through flood channels onto the road.  There is no tide here to cause  a surge of sea water and it isn't excessive rainfall, causing the sea level to rise.

The sea water forms a lake  for almost a kilometre along the harbour

All that salt water can do damage to your car but these kids are having loads of fun

Ladies who lunch
I'm front left
At the end of summer, as days cooled down, I suddenly became a social butterfly, Poros style.
As well as going to the cinema three times in one month/year/summer I also got to wine and dine with English friends .
We coffee-ed and lunched, chatted in a language I savvy and didn't have to interpret. My glass ran-eth over.

Grandson, who lives in the city, taking their kitten, Diego for a walk. Coffee and catnip?

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Peppers and a Pumpkin

A little bit of nothing

Our troll guarding the last green squash

One pumpkin/squash out of so many that we spied in the garden.
The goats came and ate all the leaves. They left this tubby little specimen hanging on the gate, still attached to it's vine. We had rain, we had sunshine and there it hung, going nowhere, doing nothing. So I cut it off and will wait for it to go yellow.

Red hot peppers
Our best crop this year. 
They come up by themselves and grow with no help from me.
That's probably why they do so well.
I'll harvest them and dry them but we still haven't used last year's or those from the year before.
They're very spicy. A little goes a long way.

Friday 10 November 2023

Photos From Our Home


Smerna (roll the 'r'), the mediterranean moray eel
Not 1 but 3 
This type of moray eel is dangerous. These ones were almost a metre long and 2 or 3 kilos each.  Their bite can be very nasty and fishermen aren't happy to see them in their catch.  They give them to K for nothing because he takes them off their hands.
Not many people eat them but they are a good fish to eat.  They have firm white flesh, with a few big bones.
K discards the head, chops them into steaks and fries them, in olive oil of course.

Now you can see why they are dangerous.
Their jaws are wide and those long sharp teeth tear and crush their prey.

We have a reputation as 'collectors'.  To put it politely.
The council truck stopped outside our gate last week and the two guys yelled for K.  Treasures, delivered straight to the door.  What fun.  For someone.  I don't know whether he asked for these or someone thought our house was the perfect dumping place.  He's not admitting anything.

One of the big pieces of  shelving was 'gifted' on to a friend who says it will come in handy.
So K is not the only keeper of treasures on the island.
And we have the other shelving unit taking up precious  space inside the house.  It's empty now but I know it will soon be full.
None of that....... 'if something comes into the house, then something must go out'..... rule here.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Hear All About It

 Hear the news that is not on  the front page. 

- Greek drama - 

Over the summer 2 turkish tourists were apprehended  for flying a drone over the Navy Base here on Poros.  They ended up in court but it was finally decided that they were indeed ordinary tourists who just happened to come from Turkey and who liked flying drones, not international spies.

There  was a bit of a brouhaha but it was over quickly.  There's nothing to spy on in Poros.  

The central building at the Navy Base is a fine example of  neo-classical architecture but there are no submarines hiding in the shallows, no torpedo boats on stand-by.

- Corfu -

Up over there on the island of Corfu, one of the popular holiday spots for partying Brits, there were some real shenanigans going on.  Kavos, in the south of Corfu, consists of endless bars full of 17-30 years olds drinking and revelling till dawn.  'The Kavos strip' is the place to be after dark.  You had better watch what you're drinking if you're partying there but most party goers probably don't care and any drink is fine as long as it's alcohol.

7 bars were shut down for reselling dregs and unfinished drinks from customers glasses.  The leftover beverages were collected in a barrel and served as shots.  The bars were shut down for 48 hours and fined.  

They were also fined for selling illegal and possibly adulterated alcohol.   

28 places were closed, temporarily, for tax evasion.

They lost a few thousand euros and were open again after two days raking the money back in.

- Sheep on a high -

from 'Greek Reporter'

A herd of sheep in the semi-flooded plain of Thessaly 'invaded' a glasshouse that cultivated medicinal cannabis and ate around 100 kilos of the stuff.  The sheep developed strange behaviour and the shepherd realised they had eaten a large part of the cannabis crop....reports say

The owner of the greenhouse  said ' I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  We had the heatwave and we lost a lot of the crop, we had the floods and we lost almost everything.  Now this.  The herd of sheep ate what was left'.

There was no clarification of 'their strange behaviour' but they didn't suffer any serious damage to their health.

- To burn or not to burn? -

Floating round the web on  blogs and youtube channels I follow is the theory that carnivores, those eating an animal based diet, like me, don't get sunburnt.

Some think it's a myth, some think that people on an animal based diet are less likely to burn and others that they heal faster.

I didn't go swimming till mid-August this year and my legs from the knees up, arms from the elbows up were lilly white.  That goes for my shoulders too.  I spend as little time as I can in the sun.  It's too hot and I hate sunbathing.   I'd rather sit in the shade and read a book.

I didn't get sunburnt  swimming on Poros exposing milk white limbs. However when I was on holiday at the Navy resort I sat in the sun rather a lot. It was late September and I needed to warm up after each swim. I didn't use any sunscreen and my knees got a bit red. The rest of me got tanned .

The sun is strong in summer, and probably if you overdo the exposure you're going to suffer whatever you eat.

November 3rd and it's still hot. No-one sits in the sun. It still burns.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Greek Pride Day

 28th October 1940

Hitler ordered Mussolini to invade Greece. Mussolini gathered his army on the northern Albanian border and issued an ultimatum to Greece

Surrender and let the Italian forces walk in, or it is war.

The Greek Prime Minister replied with a resounding

'Ochi' 'No'


'Alors, c'est la guerre'

So Greece joined WWII and the battle carried on with fierce fighting for 219 days.

To give you an idea of that resistance, look at how other European countries reacted

Norway 61 days of resistance

France   43

Holland 4 days

Denmark 0

The Danish king gave his crown to the Fuhrer's messenger to take back to Hitler as a sign of compliance.

Greece not only pushed the Italians back over the Albanian border but took back territory they had previously lost.

German forces invaded a few months later occupying the mainland and islands.

Every city, village, island, even the tiniest with a school of 1 pupil holds a ceremony with speeches and wreath laying followed by a parade of school child/children. They celebrate with pride the bravery of their soldiers and the resistance of the Greek people. The women fought as courageously as the men hauling ammunition and supplies .

We always fly the greek flag on National Days.  This time K hoisted a small NZ flag too.  The slight breeze caught the NZ flag nicely, but not the Greek

Poppi. Front left

Yesterday we went down to the harbour with most of the population to watch 2 of our grandaughters parade and enjoy a coffee with friends.

It was a beautiful sunny day.  Every man and his dog was out, most, like me, photographing our own school children.  I must have similar photos going back almost 20 years.

After coffee the men had a few beers and then we headed up to Paradise taverna in the hills near us.  Half of those men and dogs had migrated up there and we were lucky to find a table.  But we did, in the shade.  So after a litre of their wine and plates of lamb and rooster over big tubes of spaghetti we went off for a siesta.

Oldest Grandson, the one in the army, came up for a visit with his girlfriend and it made a very happy ending to the day.  K completed his celebrations with a few glasses of raki and listened to some of his favourite very eastern souding greek music along to a chorus of owls on our back balcony.  The rest of the neighbourhood slept, or tried to.

We woke up next morning to find that South Africe had beaten the All Blacks by one point and won the World Rugby Cup.  We had been talking about the match with Grandson G that evening.  Being a family of greek/kiwis (and Australians) we take our rugby seriously.
Rugby is unknown here and is never shown on greek tv or the european channels we pick up  
On one of the previous world cup finals, when the All Blacks did win we  all gathered in our living room with beer, and marmite, Marlborough sauv blanc, curried eggs and other kiwi snacks and all our kiwi paraphernalia to watch the match.  G  had somehow managed to find it online and streamed it to our television.
Next time.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

What's up

I heard a lone cicada yesterday afternoon.  The sun during the day is still very hot.  This time last year we had the last batch of visitors and they were still swimming.  October, the best of months.  November is usually in that category too.

My oldest grandson is doing his compulsory military service at the moment.  He's tall, the tallest in his company during the 3 weeks training and was selected for special service.  He could have been one of those guards you see in Syntagma Square guarding Parliament but opted out of that.  Instead he will be one of those in the squad that ascends the Acropolis in the morning and evening to raise and lower the greek flag.  He will also do duty on official occasions guarding the President of the Republic or marching in parades.

So, if you're coming to Greece this next 9 months and going up the Acropolis, as every tourist does, then watch out for the best looking lad. That will be him. 

Every Greek male has to do service in one of the armed forces.  It used to be a 2 year stint, now my grandson is only serving for 9 months.  He'll be finished in time to enjoy the next summer.

They get paid next to nothing.  I remember years ago they received 1,000 drachmas.  Just enough to get a few packets of cigarettes.  Now G told us he will have 10 euros credited to his bank account.  Every month?  He says it's a one time payment.  It's peanuts, whichever way.  They get fed and clothed, uniform only, and I think they get travel vouchers too so they can go home and see Mama.

Christmas is coming whether we like it or not.  For some years now we have been talking about doing a Secret Santa gift exchange and we finally got it into gear a few weeks ago,  We put names on paper and into a nice greek pot and everyone drew a paper. You only buy a present for the person whose name is on your piece of paper. 3 of the grandchildren drew their own names.  What's the odds? Redraw! 

So now we only have to buy one present for our secret-santa-receiver.  I thought it would be easy but in actual fact it's not.  We have all the money to put on one person.  One good present which they will enjoy opening.  There are still the xmas stockings for the grandchildren though they're really too old for that.  The youngest is 15.  Trivia and sweets go in those.  

Talking of trivia, after the 'lottery' we played a greek version of Trivial Pursuit.  No feasting this time, just coffee and excellent brownies and carrot cake. Thanks kids

The trivial game was hilarious.  Thank goodness I managed to answer enough questions to save face.  Who sang 'Singing in the Rain'.  No, not Frank Sinatra but good ole Gene Kelly.  What was the mascot at the French world cup football final in 1998.  Thank goodness for rugby, which has nothing to do with football finals.  But I know the Australian team is called the Wallabies, the South Africans are Springboks, England are the Lions and amongst others I  know that France is represented by the Rooster.  WIN!

I left most of the greek questions to the others in my team.  But I did know the temple at Delphi is dedicated to Apollo.  I've been there 3 times.

Next I  have to order xmas cards and xmas crackers.  Xmas cards are cheap on the chinese giant Shein.  Xmas crackers I'm not sure about.  We used to buy them from Ebay but we can't use that anymore because we have to pay ridiculous import tax on everything coming from England.

And finally the cinema.  That rooftop movie theatre is still running.  Blankets provided on these colder nights.

This time the movie I saw was based on an Agatha Christie book.  A Haunting in Venice is the name.  Based very loosely on one of her books  I might add.  It was great entertainment.  Very dramatic. Kenneth Branagh with his huge walrus moustache as Poirot.  I loved it .  I'm thinking I'd love any movie shown on a rooftop on Poros.  It was fun, it was noisy.  I had great company once again and ohhh, that aroma of buttery popcorn!

This week The Exorcist is being shown.  The new version. I take my words back, that is one movie I would NOT enjoy at a Poros rooftop cinema.  I won't be going.  But my granddaughters will.  Ye gods and little fishes.  They've got strong nerves.

Saturday 14 October 2023

Walking the Ruins

 I am walking daily now the worst heat is over so I  took my quad bike up to the Temple to Poseidon to see if there were any wild cyclamen growing up there and walk along a different stretch of road.  The cyclamen love to grow around rocks and in the pine needles where little else will grow.

I took a few photos of the area while it is still dry and brown.  Soon it will be green and grassy and the stones that remain, very few, will be covered.

The entrance way to the Temple for Poseidon.  So they say.  There is nothing left but a few stones forming the boundary

Inside the Temple area itself.  Now a small grove of pines

My ancient throne.
  My handy marble seat, maybe from a column.  I always sit here to contemplate and enjoy the silence.  Yesterday it was too hot, at 4pm, and I had to move and perch on a wall

A plinth.  The white marble base of a column.  

This is a semi circle of marble with what looks like seating but probably isn't.  Twenty years ago we would bring the grandchildren up here to play in the dirt and sit and have a picnic.  There is now rope around this place .  This doesn't stop anyone from jumping over though.
The whole Temple area is free to all visitors and the gate is never closed.  There is no guard with a whistle as there is on the Acropolis.  You don't dare to get close enough to touch anything up near the Parthenon.

The only 'large' area of stone wall that remains

Cyclamen and a forest of dry spiky sea squills.
This is their year.  There are growing everywhere in dry stoney ground.  Underneath is a huge bulb which is extremely difficult to dig up (as Cro knows).  The bulb is hung on the outside door at New Year to bring good luck

The view from the Temple.  You can see the straits leading to Poros and right across to the mainland.  At night the lights along the coast from Athens can be clearly seen

Thursday 12 October 2023

August September October Garden

 October .  Autumn.  

It has been an unusual growing season

My garden is a few weeks behind it's usual production.  Last week my grandaughter came up to do some heavy lifting.  She's the rower, has very strong arms.  I got her to prune back the white bougainvillia.  It's nasty spiky branches were reaching for the sky again.  Normally by the end of September it has virually stopped sprouting and is full of snowy white flowers.  No flowers so far.

Further down the garden in the pumpkin patch I was ready to pull all the plants out.  They didn't start flowering till the end of September and I couldn't see any pumpkins growing.  Little Miss Sharp-Eyes found 7 small pumpkins, or squash and now the flowers are producing more, almost daily.  Will they grow?  Is there enough hot sun to give them strength?  

Meantime K bought me cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce plants and there's no where to plant them until the end of the pumpkin season.  They are going into pots at the moment, and the old wheelbarrow.

August, season of plentifulness
Apricots were cheap.  Not as cheap as last year
I bought a few kilos and made jam and chutney

Green beans were a vegetable not seen this year in our local market.  The hot days of July burnt all the plants.  Those that did finally appear were selling at 4.50 euros a kilo against last year's price of 2 euros.

Heatwaves burnt the olive flowers in July and August so the harvest, just beginning now, is not going to be plentiful.  However, it's not as bad as expected.  Olive oil was predicted to be selling now at 15 euros a litre.  The price has doubled and is 7 euros, at the moment.
Greek housewives will be halving their use of olive oil.  My mother-in-law would put a good wine glass of olive oil, from their own olives, in a pot of, say, beans.  A lot less is used now, more for dietary reasons, though also economic.  I imagine we'll be measuring it by the tsp soon.  


The mint is still green and bushy in my garden.  That has usually dried up and disappeared by the end of September and the trifylli (sorrel, clover, oxalis, whatever) would have taken over, smothering anything that survived.  The trifylli is just appearing, very tentatively.

The basil is still green and very healthy. That has normally died out by now as well.


We were stricken with hordes of locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, anything that jumped and hopped and leaped.
Some were very small, some were huge.  Some seemed to stay glued in one spot for hours, days on end.  Some were green some were khaki.  Some leaped, or leapt, onto  me at night, clinging to my hair, landing on a bare leg or arm, bringing a moment of terror and then a very angry shaking and throwing-off.  I always gave the washing a good shake when  I brought it in from the line and often shook my clothes as well before getting dressed.
There are still a few of those around but they are no longer very active.  The mosquitoes have taken over.

We had no ants, very few wasps and flies.  Bees must have been around to pollinate my pumpkins

The cicadas didn't seem so loud this year and they seemed to disappear very early in the season.  I googled to learn about the cicadas song.  They only sing when the temperature is above 72oF or 23C. According to that they should still be in full chorus. 

The roses are still blooming and the plants/branches are reaching up to the heavens. I've never seen them grow so tall

Two pumpkins have grown over the wall in search of more sun. They're lucky that the water pipes have been fixed and the goats have found another water source and disappeared from our area. They would have gobbled these down in seconds

There are forests of these spindly things 
Can't remember what they're called but they have a huge bulb underneath

The wild cyclamen are magnificent this year.
Usually there are small clumps underneath the pine trees and along the side of the road.  This year there are carpets of them