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.

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.

Monday 20 February 2023

Island Life

 A few winter photos 

A sign, up here in the backwoods , which has been blasted by shotguns 
Usually the ground underneath is scattered with shotgun cartridges.  Oddly there were none this time
No hunting on Poros.  Whatever the season.  But the island is full of hunters with shotguns.  They usually hunt wild pig on the mainland.
But they get a bit bored.
There are wild goats and rabbits around us

Not a clear photo
Its an icecream fridge wrapped up till next summer.
I took the photo because of the words on the side.

"Icecream made from fresh daily sheep's milk"

Sheep's milk?  Interesting.  I may have to try one of these icecreams next summer.
Just so I can report back on the taste of sheep's milk icecream

A black cat crossed my path
as he headed up these green mossy winter steps.
They'll be cleaned and whitewashed before Greek Easter

A stone house

Most steps are green, full of weeds and moss at this time of the year.
They're very slippery. The Municipality have put railings alongside most of them. But not all

Poppi hoping to find some space to store the Xmas tree and decorations.
She has a system.
And a note of the contents stuck on the door.
Soon she'll be down-loading the summer 'stuff', fans, outdoor cushions. Hard to believe when it's 6oC.

Buying fish from the market.
K in winter mode.
There was some nice big cod there. At 15euros a kilo just a little too expensive for us.
He bought a kilo of a smaller fish, but tastier he says.
6 euro a kilo.
Come back in an hour and it will be gutted and scaled.
A new service which we really appreciate.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Smokey Thursday

 Here we are again. 2 weeks before Lent. This Thursday is the last of the big meat eating days. This week is Meat week. Next week is Cheese Week. 

Then it's Clean Monday, a national holiday and the beginning of the 6 weeks of  Lent.

So today we eat meat. The island is filled with an aromatic cloud of smoke from bbqed meat, wafting around the backstreets and along the waterfront

Pork, beef, chicken, turkey, goat, venison or rabbit. Lots of liver, sausages, souvlaki, kebab . And great amounts of tzatziki.

According to 'Olive Magazine' 

The custom originated from the Dionysion* revelry of ancient Greece. As with other rites and rituals it was incorporated into Christianity.

*Dionysos. Greek god of grape harvest, wine making, revelry, ritual madness and naturally enough after all that he's the god of fertility as well.

After all the meat eating, beer and wine drinking today there'll be a bit of dancing as well. The men twirl and slap their legs while their friends clap them on and yell 'opa', throw a few packets of table napkins and maybe even break a plate though that's frowned on now .

Carnival has already begun and really ramps up for the next 10 days.  

In days of yore we would dress up, don a carnival mask and crowd into one of the tavernas which were overflowing with people and music . We'd eat piles of greasy lamb chops and K would be on the dance floor all night, between glasses of retsina, doing those circle dances with lines of dancers shuffling along behind the leaders or kicking up his heels and slapping thighs doing the energetic 'butchers' dance.

Tonight we will light the fire, grill some meat and enjoy the company  of  family. It'll all be over early because the grandchildren have school tomorrow. Our traditional greek will be happy after a litre or two of the family wine 

Photos from days of yore

A Carnival Fairy

A pot full of grilled meat

An impromptu grill on the waterfront

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Thoughts on the Earthquake

 The earthquakes in Turkey  levelled 10 cities. 

Tens of thousands dead.  Houses fell, street after street, leaving nothing but piles of rubble.

I've tried to write  several times but it's so difficult. Can you imagine having to run for your life, terrified, in the dead of night, in a freezing mid winter, in your pyjamas.

Now you're mourning the death of loved ones.  You're maybe completely alone, family and friends dead, crushed as their homes collapsed. You yourself have nothing. No house, no job, no bank card. No smartphone, no any-phone. No identity. You're in some sort of shelter hoping for something to eat .  Or maybe you've left, been flown to the other side of the country to temporary accomadation. In shock. 

How about the hundreds of unidentified children. Frightened, hoping to be reunited with their mother, father, brothers or sisters. Family. 

8 days later there are still a few survivors being rescued from the ruins. Eight days of despair probably losing consciousness in a  freezing space which could be your coffin. Hoping for the sound of human activity. 

And that's in Turkey. How about Syria where millions of refugees already live in tents, in  camps, hoping each day for food, water. Having relief supplies being held up by civil war, closed borders, armed rebels.

Greek and Turkish foreign Ministers embrace 
Neighbour helps neighbour in times of disaster.  

Poros residents donate clothes, food, medical supplies to earthquake victims.  There were donation points in every town in Greece yesterday gathering relief supplies.  I hope they get to the people that need them, fast.

Monday 6 February 2023

Not Barbara-Ann either

 Woke up this morning to hear the beach boys đŸŽ¶Barbara AnnđŸŽ¶ being blasted out from the morning tv news show.

'Barbara-Ann' this storm is not. No tanned bods balancing on surfboards around here at the moment. 

The sun is shining but the atmosphere is icy. Good old K who gets up long before me had lit the fire. 

I'm sitting with the sun pouring through the big windows and as close to the fire as I can.

Then there's the tremendous earthquake in Turkey and Syria. We didn't feel it here but the islands over on the coast must have been rocked by that 7.8 tremor .

Greece and Turkey usually forget their differences at times like this and  send rescue workers and other aid. Ordinary Greeks and Turks offer assistance and sympathy. 

Politicians convene think-tanks to make the most of the situation. And then continue their aggressive policies.

News is just coming in.

 Along with live broadcasts of a snowy central Athens.

A light cover of snow on the Acropolis

Sunday 5 February 2023

NOT Santa Barbara

 Barbara is the name of the cold front which has moved into Greece from southern Europe. 

We are sitting beside the fire watching the Athenians in the northern suburbs struggling with snowy roads. It was announced on tv days ago that anyone driving on city and national roads must have snow chains. If there's no snow they must have them in the car or there'll be a fine of 80 euros.  We are goggling at the number of drivers being turned around as they try to drive onto the snowy  Athens motorway and ring roads. 

Honestly, where do they think they're going. I hope they are actually being fined as well.

It has been raining here this morning but no snowflakes yet. K was supposed to be going to the yearly cutting of the ex-Navy New Years cake. Greek tradition which goes on till the end of the month. He decided to stay at home and warm up with a tot of something fiery. I'm not sure that's a good idea.  He could easily have gone down and would have had company to swap Navy tales with other old-salts. They're worse than fishermen with 'the one that got away'.

Here he's stuck with me and the TV.

To make it worse the television crews are highlighting tavernas in small villages with spits of roast pig and offal. 

I roasted a chicken, with lemon and oregano, in our wood fire oven last night so it only needs warming up.

Sad for K though. Roast chook does not compare favourably with roast pig on a day like this.

Snow is falling on the hills opposite.

Those clouds are unloading snow. It probably won't fall any lower than the mountain top.

Thanks for the photo Elli 

Northern Greece is properly snowed under.

Schools all over the region of Attiki (Athens, Piraeus, suburbs, and us) will be closed tomorrow.

Only essential shops and services will be open.

High winds, rough seas have meant inter island boats aren't allowed to leave port. Poros car ferries and taxi boats will still be working unless the straits get very turbulent. That probably happens a couple of times a year, for several hours.

But who knows. News is that there's worse to come. And it will last till Wednesday.

The US nuclear aircraft carrier, George W Bush, is moored out in the Bay near Piraeus. They don't have to worry about the weather. It carries a crew of 6,000 and 85 fighter jets. 

It's here to strengthen the NATO alliance, so they say. A message of strength being sent to Turkey!