Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Oktopodi - Octopus

 

OKTO-PODI  ( from the greek meaning eight-feet)

Plural, octopii, octopodia or octopuses

 - Recipe below -

Having a soft body, a strong beak like jaw and eight tentacles with suckers.  According to Wikipedia ‘Octopuses are among the most intelligent behaviorally diverse of all invertebrates’ - remember Paul the   Octopus who predicted the winners of the 2010 World Soccer cup matches?   Paul was saved from being turned into octopus salad because of his psychic abilities but many of his species turn up on plates at tavernas, ristorantes and  bistros all over the med.

Catching your octopus is an art learnt over the years by small boys with sticks who turn into tanned bare foot fishermen  fishing  for more fatale ‘prey’ in those same tavernas, ristorantes and bistros all over that same Mediterranean coast.

Jiggling a stick under its rock is a good way to make it leave its nest of stones on the seabed. Keep your eyes wide open because they are hard to spot. An octopus can change colour and blend very nicely into its surroundings.  If you’re lucky it will wrap the tentacles around your arm and suck onto your skin.  If you’re unlucky it will cover you in a blast of sticky black  ink and launch itself like a rocket into the depths never to be seen again.

Be brave, grab it quickly by the ‘neck’ and bite it between the eyes to kill it.  Swim to the nearest beach and ‘beat’ the octopus 100 times by slamming it on the rocks.  This will tenderize it.  Then swirl it around for a few minutes in the juices it produces.  The octopus can also be softened  by putting it in the freezer for a few days.

It's still common to see a fisherman beating an octopus on the rocks at the edge of the sea or the end of a jetty. 

Or go to your local fishmonger and  beg them to find one for you.  Most of the world seems to know octopus only from a vaccum packeted tentacle in the gourmet section of the deli.

If you can’t find a fresh or frozen octopus then buy a ticket to Greece and make your way to the nearest small island ‘Ouzeri’.  Order an  aniseed ouzo with lots of ice  and you’ll be given  grilled ‘octpodi’ as a meze.  You’ll be served a tentacle of octopus doused with lemon juice and also a  toothpick.  Spear a small slice of octopus which has been bbqed over the coals on the pavement next to you.    Sip from your glass of milky ouzo, nibble on a slice of cucumber and chew your octopus tentacle while watching the brilliant sunset over the Aegean sea.

- Preparation and Recipe   -

When you find an octopus to cook then this is the way to do it.   If the octopus is frozen then let it defrost.  If it’s fresh put it in the freezer for a couple of days to tenderize it.

Slit the *hood of the octopus and clean out the ink sac and any brown stuff.  Wash the octopus well in cold water, especially if it feels slimy.  Turn the hood inside out and cut out out the sharp ball-like projections, called the 'beak'.

    

*It’s simpler to cut off the hood and just use the tentacles.  The hood tends to be tougher.

A traditional greek prefers it grilled but it will be chewy. Most online instructions for grilled octopus call for boiling it first to make it tender.  That’s for others. Don't suggest that here in Greece.   Here they will hang it out to dry before it goes on the grill, tentacle by tentacle.

If you're a reader of my blog you will have seen many photos of  octopus hanging out to dry on my clothesline.








- To cook the most tender octopus you slowly stew it, more or less in its own juices.

- Boil the octopus in a little water for about an hour till it is soft. Add more water as is needed.  

- Add a bay leaf as well.  When it is ready and the juices/water have boiled down then add a good dash of vinegar, half a small wine glass of fresh olive oil and a smattering of oregano.    Your saucepan will need a good scrub afterwards but the purple stains do disappear eventually.

My father-in-law insisted you should never add water to the pot but let it stew slowly in its own juices.  None of the octopii I have cooked ever had enough juice to cook it that way.

- NB It does not need any salt (unless your name is Rainy)

Cut the octopus  into slices .  Serve on a plate with the vinegar and oil. Maybe sprinkle a little dried oregano over it.  The oil and vinegar make the sauce that you mop up with bread.  Make sure the bread is not too fresh, and cut thick.   


Octopus with vinegar and oil is what K makes for our extended family visitors. It's very popular even with those who have never tried it before. 


  Follow up with sliced apples sprinkled with honey cinnamon and walnuts.

Traditional Greeks like a small sweet after a fish dish.

 - Variations -

- You can also bake the octopus.  K loves it with small macaroni shells, a tomato sauce made from fresh grated tomatoes, lots of olive oil and a couple of cinnamon sticks.



- To use in a salad boil it first till tender and then cut into the size you want and add the salad items you like.  I've never seen this on a Greek menu. 

- Grilled octopus.  Some say grill it till it almost turns black.  Others say grill it a few minutes and serve.  You'll have to try each way and see which you prefer.  With or without boiling it first.  Slice into very thin pieces and eat with a squeeze of lemon juice and a scattering of dried oregano

- Octopus balls.  If it's still tough after boiling, the cat won't eat it and you don't know what on earth to do with it then turn it into octopus keftethes.  I made these once but can't remember the recipe exactly.   You'll need a high power blender to chop it up.  Probably the mixture needs breadcrumbs, parsley, maybe basil, pepper, spring onion, lemon juice, maybe an egg to bind the mix and oil to fry the walnut size balls. Use Google for the exact recipe





Thursday, 16 March 2023

Flashback 2008 Part 2


From the east of northern Greece we travelled west, 650 kilometres, to visit one of K's cousins. In 2008 he was building a luxury hotel up in the mountains near the city of Ioannina. At this higher elevation it was green and cool. We stayed four more days than we had intended, visiting wonderful little villages built out of stone,  the roads cobbled and paved. Deep gorges, rivers that were actually full of water. It was really relaxing, especially when we knew the rest of Greece was having a heat wave.  It was a relief after the dryness and dirt of the east.  

The roads up there were terrific, much the best we've seen in Greece. Six lanes, straight, a speed limit of 130 kms and no tolls. They are still working on them but are more or less like this right up to the borders.


2023 

I don't remember much about this road trip. I know we did it in one day and marvelled at the long straight roads. We could see huge viaducts, bridges and tunnels being built alongside the road we were on. It must be a super highway now. Once we got into the mountains the roads became narrow, steep and twisty again. These have mostly been bypassed and that trip can be done in half the time. 

We spent many hours closed together in that car. Somehow we made it there and back. Small things on the road added up to moments of great stress but once we arrived all was well again. Seeing the cousin brought smiles of joy for K. 

I do remember one stop for coffee at a small, mainly Muslim, village. That must have been at the beginning of the trek. Over towards Turkey in the region known as Thrace (where we had been) there are large Muslim communities. Once again I tried not to stare and would have loved to explore more. The women wore  long dresses and head scarves and there was a minaret instead of an orthodox bell tower. There were only men in the cafeteria but we/I didnt feel an intruder. The capuccino was hot and the ladies toilet was very clean. Mostly unused I suppose. 



A mountain road in the mist




An old arched stone bridge typical of the region


Me sitting on old stone bridge


Aristi village square

 We sat in the village square and had coffee under the chestnut tree. Drove through ravines of green forest and dined in the next village right on the edge of a very deep canyon. 


Vikos Canyon 

2nd biggest in the world after the Grand Canyon 

 Drove back to Aristi again for the local raki, called tsipoura, sampled the local cheese pies,  no comparison to the greasy fast food version of Athens, and lapped up the peace and stillness. 

Just a note about the pies. Pies of all sorts are part of the local cuisine, big round baking dishes of pies with greens, cheese or chicken and thick handmade pastry.

Our cousin got an old friend, a village woman, to make one specially for us . It was half a metre across, a very thin layer without pastry. The flour is incorporated into the cheese and eggs. By gosh it was good. The three of us managed to eat it all and drink a few beers. No wonder I was the size I was.

 There are 46 small villages in these mountains and they are very busy in the winter when snow calls for roaring fires, litres of raki (strong spirit) and roasted wild boar. Summertime they are quieter, popular with river rafters and hikers but wonderful for a holiday away from the crowds that surround you by the sea and on the islands.

  We sat at an outside bar till one or two a.m. most nights talking and drinking with the cousin and family and most of the village. Then we walked home, guided by the fireflies - called 'picolo-bithes' in greek!

We stayed at a pension run by an Albanian couple. It was beautifully decorated, lots of wood and natural stone and impeccably maintained. She made a breakfast of champions for us with eggs and fruit, good coffee and piles of fried cakes with lots of local honey. Everything is 'local' around here which is just what we, and tourists, want. 

Once we met our cousin much of our days were spent eating and drinking in the picturesque mountain villages. But that's how a holiday should be, shouldn't it?

Nowadays I'd take the time to hike some of the trails and visit the monasteries and churches of which there are many and most are very old. Not religious tourism. These old places are fascinating.

We could have visited Albania from here. We were only 65 kilometres from the border. Another time. Perhaps




Aberratio Boutique Hotel
Aristi, Zagorohoria
Cousin's hotel today
Built from beautiful local stone
Back then there were only the stone foundations


View with breakfast
We stayed at the hotel a few years later, invited to the wedding of the cousin's son. It was midwinter, snow only on mountain tops, bright but chilly. We lapped up the luxury and  spent long nights reminiscing with Ks family in front of a huge fireplace and drinking firewater. Days we spent in the village taverna. 




The island in the middle of Ioannina's lake
This was the base of turko-albanian Ali Pasha who ruled this area in the early 1800's. 
We visited the island and its museum and the ruined monastery where he was killed but were more interested in eating the local delicacies, frog legs and eel. 
I ate the frog legs, poor little frogs. Their legs are rather boney without much meat on them. They are deep fried. K ate grilled eel which was delicious. 
We could have chosen turtles from an aquarium which apparently they make into soup for you. I promised daughter Elli I would let the turtles live. Anyway I couldn't face turtle soup made from a creature I'd singled out to die a few minutes earlier. 


There are a lot of trout in the streams and rivers but fishing is forbidden. We found and brought back a few kilos of smoked trout for everyone, bought straight from the place it was smoked  and vaccum packed. There were stalls all along the roads out of Ioannina with tanks of fresh trout and we bought some of those too. It has been many years since I've tasted fresh trout. Since I was last in NZ and my brothers returned with their catch from a fishing trip.



Me, back then


Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Flashback - Bulgaria

 

EECE

Monday, July 21, 2008

With added notes from 2023

We are sweltering now (July 2008). I have the air conditioning on and am still hot and sweaty at 9pm. It is about 39 today but very sticky too.

We have just come back from ten days in northern Greece. We went way up north near the Turkish and Bulgarian border and over the border for a quick visit to Bulgaria. After staying a few days in the east we then drove across to the west of Greece near the Albanian border.


Greece and it's northern borders
Going from West (left) to East (right)
Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and then that huge area to the right is all Turkish territory 


Bulgaria was not a place I would revisit quickly. There are many thousands of Bulgarian refugees in Greece and you can see why. A lot of the transport was still horse and cart - though there were a few BMWs too. The houses were poorly built, red bricks with no plastering and in bad condition- broken windows, tiles falling off roofs and although everything was very cheap there wasn't much worth buying. It seemed to me, back then,  dirty and grimy and the loos, literally a smelly hole in the ground, down the end of the garden path.   We were thinking of going over into Turkey too but after the poverty of this area we decided not to.  It was enough for one trip.  The Turkish city of Adrianopolis (called Erdine by the Turks) is only an hour away from here. 

This part of Bulgaria seemed to be mostly agricultural.  There were roadside stalls near every small village selling tomatoes and zucchinis, alongside toilet rolls and bottles of lurid coloured drink.  We travelled into Bulgaria with another couple, friends of  Poros friends who lived in a small northern village. We met them briefly and they kindly invited us to join them on a quick visit to  relatives the next day. The wife was Bulgarian so we got the inside deal. We were very appreciative of their hospitality.  If we had visited by ourselves we would only have seen the view from the car and the inside of a restaurant.

  She took us to her sister's house, where we used the hole in the ground down the garden path and also to the house of a cousin.  All very friendly people with whom we did not share a language.  The houses were full of crocheted doilies and cheap bric brac.  Comfortable but basic family homes.  At one house we sat out in the garden all squashed into a garden gazebo.  I was at my biggest then and it was painfully obvious they were pointing out my size and laughing as we squeezed up to each other.  It just washed over me but it's surprising what you understand without having that common language. We drank flourescent coloured orangeade and listened to the small birds in a quite fancy aviary next to us.  Outside on the road there were a few old cars but mostly agricultural equipment and there was a shack/store from where we saw the bright orange-ade being carried.

 Our first stop a few kilometres over the border was at a money exchange desk at a hotel. 'Hotel' I wondered, and still wonder 'who stays here' or maybe 'who does what here'. With our pockets full of 'lev' we walked along rough roadsides without a pavement to  a big market for everything from clothes to birds in cages, local sausages, cheese and  farm animals.  Our new greek friend took us to a stall selling grilled kebabs and we had a few of them with a couple of bulgarian beers.  All very good, the kebabs were wonderful and spicy, lamb I should think.  We had a look at the clothes but didn't buy anything. They were cheap and gaudy. 

 The Bulgarian wife had some work to do in the town so we went to a small taverna, a shack which had a gas stove with a big pot on it, plates in a glass fronted cabinet, old wooden chairs and tables with stained plastic cloths. Like Greek tavernas 40 years ago. K and greek friend had tripe soup and more beer.  I had a meatball soup.   And very nice it was too. Both the tripe and the soup are popular dishes all over Greece.  Nothing strange to us .  Then toilet time again.  These were the normal kind but we had to pay to use them and get a piece of toilet paper and use the sink afterwards.  There were doilies in the loo too.  The state of the loos?  Useable.

The second town was much larger with open squares, newer cars, a big covered market and a large supermarket.

We went to the covered market and I bought a large ceramic snail which I still have in the garden and some clothes for grandchildren.

Looking back now I cannot imagine what clothes I bought. They were all cheap nylon and bright colours. I doubt if any grandchild actually wore them but it was all so cheap I had to buy something.

From there we went to the supermarket which was very similar to what we had on Poros but half the price. The Greek bought long rolls of salami, blocks of  cheese and crates of beer. He only had a very small car where we were already squashed so we refrained from doing any more shopping.

Somewhere there I also bought a thick ceramic plate which I was told was for cooking pancakes (tiganites) over a gas flame. I've still got that too though I've never used it. It's sitting on our wood stove now. Time to experiment I think. We do have an outside gas stove but the top of the wood stove gets hot enough to cook a pancake.

We visited 2 towns.  Harmonli, population 9,000 and Huskovo, population 28,000.

 We didn't need a passport, simply used our Greek ID cards and were told we could do the same if we went into Turkey. Its no longer so simple. The towns in southern Bulgaria are now full of miserable Syrian refugee camps. But back then crossing into Bulgaria we didn't even get out of the car or see a policeman or soldier. Our friend took the ID cards in to a small office and came back 2 minutes later. We then drove into Bulgaria. 

I must emphasise that this is My description of south east Bulgaria in 2008.  The tourist areas up around the Black Sea  and the ski resorts close to greece  over on the western border crossing are very different, upscale and luxurious.   

Back in Greece again..... 

The farming in northern greece reminded me a little of NZ. They were bailing hay though it was much, much drier . There were fields and fields of sunflowers, all facing in the same direction. And storks! The powerpoles had platforms around the tops of them and the storks build huge nests up there. In the evening there would be two or three of the stork family standing up there, and they would call with a loud 'clack-clack'.

This must have been the first time we booked a hotel online. In the photographs it looked new and clean and appealing. Up close it was shoddy and the bathroom in our room was 'grotty'. I won't use a worse word but I wore jandals (flip flops ) even in the shower. The sheets were clean! Unfortunately it also had a swimming pool attached to it. A swimming pool open to all and sundry, the sundry being groups of loud youths who swam and splashed and yelled till early morning. After dark it became a bar, a very popular bar.

From then on when booking accomodation I took a sharp look at the critical reviews. 3 stars is not a sign of a good hotel and never believe the photos you see.

Our Poros friend was from a tiny village which we found along very dusty narrow roads and went there to eat a couple of times and have a coffee. It was peaceful and was literally in spitting distance of Turkey. The lights on the hill opposite were from a Turkish village. There was only the wide river Evros in between the two countries. 

NB   Nowadays there's a 5 metre high fence running many kilometres along the banks of that river  keeping the illegal migrants out. 

The village, 'Praggi', population 304, had a tiny square surrounded by the village houses and 2 cafenions. The coffee was good, the beer was cold and we sat under the plane tree and watched village life while the villagers checked us out. Only men were sitting at the caf├ęs. The owner of 'our' cafenion did more business than the other because his wife, the waitress, was blonde and busty and extremely friendly.

A kilometre away beside the river was a taverna where the owner, a farmer during the day, grilled pork from his farm. We sat under lights strung through the trees and I marvelled at the sight of those Turkish village lights and now and again the dull 'thud' from a far away gunshot. Gunshot probably from hunters but still, it could have been from the nearby army base or some small conflict, I thought.

The mosquitoes came out at dusk in clouds and the owner provided mosquito spray. Thankfully they disappeared once darkness settled.

The meat was very good, the Greek salads huge and it was unbelievably cheap.  

Earlier in the year we were planning a trip to Bulgaria, going up through a different border crossing to some towns near the greek border which are known for their natural hot water spas. Since then we've heard that these towns specialise in 'porno-tourism'. Better than Thailand - anything your 'heart' desires plus a bit of natural spa therapy thrown in as well.  

There is so much more to see and do.  There are orthodox monasteries, picturesque mountain villages, spectacular scenery, delicious cuisine and wonderful ski fields.  I would definitely visit this part of Bulgaria if I could, along with North Macedonia and Albania.  The added advantage of these countries is that you can drive there.   When you have your own transport you can drive straight to the accomodation and then tour at ease.  But we never did make that trip.  2 years later the economic crisis began and all trips were put on hold and are still very much 'on hold'.  


There was a reason for this visit, so many kilometres away. K had just retired from the Navy and he gave his new residence as that town in Northern Greece. The travel to your new permanent residence was subsidised by the kilometre. We signed in at the Army base up north, no questions asked,  and got a free holiday. 

No longer applicable by the way. Rules have changed. 


Next installment, the mountains of Northern Greece

............. 

Oddly enough I only took one photo during the first half of the trip.  One photo of the storks and none at all of Bulgaria.  In 2008 I had a phone which had no camera.  I had two cameras with me but I hadn't yet turned into today's photo reporter.


The view from our hotel.
Somewhere there be storks by gosh, on top of one of those poles.  I enlarged it as much as I could.
Swimming pool just out of sight to the right







Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Some Days in Winter


The weather is fine today.  The sun is shining.
Last night it rained.
The plants are loving it.  Temperatures are around 20o instead of 10o.  The hydrangeas have budded and so has the grapevine.  The rocket (arugula) has finally started to grow. 


On my way down town I saw two spots of colour on the roadside. Red.  Not wild poppies yet but anemones.  Spring really is on it's way.

Yesterday I went across on the car ferry to the small village of Galatas to get my hair cut.  Getting a hair cut in the winter is difficult.  This salon is run by a cousin.  The wife of a cousin.
She's good.  My hair is now all one colour instead of me having a blonde fringe and various shades of gold and yellow through the rest of it.  I have reached the stage where I need a professional to cover the grey.  And I got a longer cut.  Something different to to go with my thin-ner self and my new love for leggings. 
Hair cut 10 euros
colour 30 euros.
I thought that was very reasonable.  They're the same prices as three years ago 

One day I will post a picture.
I'm very happy with the style.  I am comfortable.

Coming back along Galatas waterfront there was a freezing wind.
It always blows along there.  The sun might have been shining but I was very glad I wore my heavy winter coat.  Spring is just beginning.
I lay in bed this morning at 6am listening to the birds chirping 'good morning'.  I can sleep with the window open, shutters closed.  I went to sleep to the sound of rain on the tiles and woke to birdsong.  
Happy me.

Soon afterwards we got a call from the hospital.  My next cataract operation will be at the end of March.  I'm even happier.  Being able to see properly out of only one eye was starting to annoy me.  It will be 2 months since I got the first eye done.  That's fast for a public hospital.  See what some money in a small white envelope will do!
We are getting the next envelope ready and a box of sweet cakes for his nurses.  I hope they get some of the money in that unmarked envelope too but somehow I doubt if he shares it around.  

The Saharan dust clouds last week really irritated my eyes and I had to go to the chemist and ask for some eye drops.  My eyes were red and sore for days but are now ok.  I wouldn't want to postpone the op because of an eye infection.  The dust cloud lasted days.  I still haven't scrubbed it off the car.

The other thing I don't want is covid.  Our neighbour has it and also his sister, on a visit from Athens.  Vaso, 85 or 86, who lives in the same house is ok at the moment though whether that will last is doubtful.  I hope they can keep her isolated because I don't think she has been vaccinated.  For most of us it's just a mild dose of the flu but often that's not the case for the elderly.  
I have to have a negative test to enter the hospital so I will be isolating too.
 




There was a silent parade along Poros waterfront, 
protesting the antiquated rail system and remembering the 57 victims of Greece's tragic train crash last week.  Many of the victims were young students returning to university after the long weekend.
Schools closed here today and most of the pupils participated.

 That sign in Greek says -
'Phone me when you arrive.'

The words of any mother seeing her children off on  a journey.    They never did phone












Sunday, 5 March 2023

Big Town Market

A wonderful sculpture in the main square of Argos, one of our closest big towns

Two girls, bare foot, sitting on a bench looking at a book.

And now

Photos of fish and vegetables. 



These fish are called, in greek, tsipoura.  Google translates them as sea bream.  Elsewhere they are around 10 euros a kilo and are often frozen.  This big city market has a wonderful selection of fresh fish and they are all so much cheaper than Poros or a supermarket


The fish sellers are right up to the new demands of fish buyers and every stall has a portable bench and a fish scaler and gutter on hand


Although strawberries aren't usually on sale until around April we found them on a few stalls at a very reasonable price




Shrimp at a very good price. 5 euros a kilo.
K scooped up all of these


Local wine in one and a half  and 5 litre plastic containers
I don't remember the price but its probably selling for around 2 euros a litre here. We didn't buy any.  We still have family wine.  But K prefers Poros wine which he can sample before buying.  A few litres at night and no headache in the morning means it's good, as long as it doesn't taste like vinegar


Honey straight from the beekeeper
We buy from our own small weekly market, from our local apiculturist/apiarist.  She's a client of my daughters and very friendly.  She sells honey with the aroma of thyme, pine, orange blossom or what K prefers, the taste of local flowers


Garlic from northern Greece, Thrace
A bundle of 3 for 1.50 euro
Good strong garlic

The potatoes are from just up the coast in the province of Achaia

And after all that bargaining we found our favourite souvlaki shop with souvlaki made with meat from the butcher's shop next door

 


5 souvlaki (pork on a skewer) and one kebab (spicy meatball on a skewer), tzatziki, a few fries, pita bread and wine only 19 euros for the two of us.  It was a lot.  We took a wee container home with the leftovers.


And then the highlight of the day (for me, definitely not for K)
Some shopping at the cheap German supermarket.


Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Carnival is Over

 Carnival is over for this year.

Clean Monday, celebrating the beginning of Lent is over.

No more celebrations till 25th March. Yooo hoo 



On a small Greek island dressing up and drinking is definitely part of life, 
at home or downtown.
Here are my two girls


And two more of the family
That green reveller is a granddaughter dressed up as a beer bottle, with her father.
The beer bottle has been around for decades. It used to be worn by her grandfather.
In the good old days.

Poros had all sorts of music and dancing for younger revellers, along the waterfront, before the nightlife began.

Monday, Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera), is a public holiday. 
Poros was full. There were hundreds of big, latest model cars,  belonging to rich Atehians, parked along the roadsides and narrowing our usually empty, at this time of the year, streets.





Meantime, back at the homestead we prepared for an informal family get-together.
First of all the octopus hanging out to dry.


 Boiled shrimp.

Today we eat seafood.
But no fish.
Just shellfish, spiny sea urchins, cuttlefish, octopus, shrimp (or are they prawns) and kalamari.
Flatbread called lagana and taramasalata (salted fish row pureed with bread, lemon and olive oil). Both the lagana and taramasalata we make ourselves.

Sweet was halvas, made with oil, semolina and a sugar syrup.  My sister in law made it and it disappeared in an instant.
'Foreigners' (ie heathens) and children also had icecream, and coffee with milk.



Octopus.
This was just boiled slowly with olive oil. Very tender and tasty.
We also had bbq-ed octopus and octopus with vinegar and oil .
And lots of ouzo.
We were given three bottles of ouzo, speciality of the island of Mytileni. Our traditional Greek has plenty to drink with the octopus leftovers. A traditional combination. 

It was a quieter day than usual. Quieter music and not as much alcohol consumed. But after a night on the town some of the family weren't quite ready for a second round. My good friend and I opened a bottle of bubbly leftover from New Year.

 And we had a surprise visit
from an Athenian based granddaughter. After a previous day on the ski fields, a night out in Athens and a 2 1/2 hour early morning boat trip to get here it really was a huge surprise. Amazing what you can do when you're 20.


Instead of flying kites this year Poppi and her sister pruned the roses, grapevine and jasmine and then cleared out the huge weeds from the driveway below.