Saturday 30 September 2023

Evening Thoughts

 One simple pleasure whilst on holiday has been to sit in the evening on our balcony listening to the call of the Scops Owl. It's call rhythmically breaks the silence. I love too watching the lights of aeroplanes as they blink through the night on their way to and from Athens airport. Their flight path often seems to be just above the tops of the trees, the lights disappearing and re-emerging in the clouds.

Scops owl.  Γκιωνης (Gionis) in Greek

The owls hoot is short, insistent, calling for a mate.  I can hear it all through the night. I like hearing its endless hoot but I imagine it could drive some to insomnia.

If you want to hear more about this bird then read 'My Family and Other Animals' by Gerald Durrell about his time on the greek island of Corfu, Kerkyra to the greeks.  He adopted a scops owl and named him Ulysses.  

The planes are far enough away not to be heard but I always wonder where they are going, a short trip to a greek island or a long haul to a far away land.  I think of the times I sat,  waiting for touch down. The squeal of wheels on the tarmac meaning a return to another culture, a foreign world till I got used to it again.
  Or sitting back in my seat to get comfortable at the start of a long journey.  
Looking down at a cosmos far below. Wondering about the lives of those people in the clusters of tiny houses, small white villages, snaking roads, rugged islands,  miniature ships sitting on the sea.

K listens to Greek music on his phone or searches youtube, thankfully with headphones. At the moment he is searching for traditional recipes from Grandpa (Papou) Tassos.
But this doesn't last long. After a while he will ask 
'don't you have something to say to me?'
His enjoyment is conversation. Listening to the sound of his voice, and others .
He's already dreaming about Xmas feasts, what he can cook for  my birthday, both months away.
He likes to 'programme' these events well in advance.
I don't like to programme anything. A last minute decision is more my style. It drives him crazy. 

His pleasure is anticipating the enjoyment of traditional Greek food and drink, discussion, conversation, debate with friends, telling of 'tall tales'.

Football, food, the Navy. 

  Sometimes, we  look back at all the friends, friends of friends and family who have passed through our doors experiencing a little of our Greek way of life.  Of days gone by. Our memories though are not quite the same.  Either I have forgotten a lot, or his  memories have been 'enriched through time'.

What did the Queen say about the memories of a certain member of the royal family:

'Some recollections may vary'

Thursday 28 September 2023


One of my evening pastimes was sitting on our small balcony observing the 'wildlife'.  However, in contrast to the fierce fish in the sea which seem to have mulitplied, the wildlife has disappeared.

There were once flocks of sparrows which nested in the trees in front of our building.  They made one hell of a noise each evening as they flew in and out of the foliage, arguing, calling to mates, choosing their branch for the night, disputing sitting rights.   They rustled and chirped and chirruped till the dark of night.

There are no sparrows in the trees this year.
We thought at first it was because of the high winds.  
However the band of sparrows at the restaurant returned when the winds died down, hopping up onto the table for crumbs, checking out plates as diners left.  Yet we didn't  see or hear them after their lunch.

The foxes seem to have disappeared too.  They would, in years gone by, appear on the beach after dark rumaging for left over pizza and burger buns.  We even spotted them up around our building where other people left out bowls of food.

A fox maybe a pest to some but it was delightful to see them so close up, pointy face and long bushy tail.  
I missed the foxes

There are always a couple of dogs, looked after by the permanent staff at the base.  This year there were three, one much bigger, a friendly giant.  They rarely barked and largely ignored the humans unless a morsel was offered. The dogs wandered along the beach, sleeping on the grass under the shade of the trees, and waited patiently outside the restaurant at midday.  They looked a contented pack.

Then there was the night bird whose seranade I always looked forward to.  K called it a cuckoo but I looked on youtube for the sounds of greek night birds and found it was the Scops owl.  

More about the Scops Owl tomorrow


Wednesday 27 September 2023

Greek Piranha

The fish at the Navy resort are protected.  Heaven knows why.  No fishing inside the bay.  There are buoys strung along the harbour mouth and if a little paddle boat goes out too far from shore or a fishing boat dares to enter sacred waters a little inflatable with a powerful motor, and half a dozen  sailors zips out there to sort out the situation.  Fishing boats actually never come near the bay, not in summer. 

There are schools of tasty eating-fish only this time it's the fish doing the eating.  

I've written about this in years gone by.  Their teeth are razor sharp and there's a lot of yelling if you're on their radar.  They go for a spot on your leg, make a break in the skin and then zoom in again and again.  You make a run for deeper water where they leave you alone and get ready to go through the war zone on your return, blood dripping down your leg.

Early morning is worse when the sea is calmer and there are fewer people.  As the day warms up and there are more legs kicking through the waves they retreat.

K and I both got bitten.  I just covered my trauma with a plaster and they left me alone.  K got dive bombed every day and eventually went to the doctor on the beach to get his wounds treated.

Once you've got a battle wound and they know there's some tasty flesh they dive bomb the wound.  You're their dish of the day

K and his luscious limbs
after medical intervention

I hope the fishermen from the village along the coast, or the sailors who winter at the resort, get out there with nets and catch the damn things.

K assures me the schools of fish are some of the best eating in Aegean waters.

Monday 25 September 2023


Confucius say :

Socrates agrees

Holiday not a holiday without octopus and ouzo

Sunday 24 September 2023

We're In the Navy

We're having 10 days holiday at the Navy resort. No cooking, cleaning and everything is heavily subsidised. My favourite place to take a vacation.

We are given a small hotel room and have to bring everything with us from pillows to sheets, towels and loo paper. Admirals,  and those with families get small apartments nestled in the pines and overlooking the enclosed bay below.

I have a comprehensive and precise list including 12 coathangers, 12 pegs, 3 bathmats (the water from the shower goes everywhere), 4 loo rolls, 6 books (don't want to run out of books or loo rolls) , glasses for beer and water, a brush and pan to sweep up the sand.

There is a small fridge in the room so we always stop at Lidl on the way and get some beer and vodka. There is a small navy supermarket here too in case you forget your toothbrush or want a loaf of bread.

We pile it all into big  blue IKEA bags and off we go.

We take turns in the morning walking 2 minutes to the cafeteria for a couple of coffees and sit on the balcony with our bread and ham for breakfast.
The grounds are well trimmed green grass, pink pathed paths with olives, pines, mulberry and palm trees
Then it's down to the sandy beach. Free sunbeds and wooden kiosks for shade

There are 4 restaurants, one with traditional Greek dishes, an ouzeri which has only seafood, at night there's a grill or a pizzeria.

K can watch his favourite soccor team and catch up with the odd Navy pal. I read books and blogs.  
Unfortunately the wifi is very patchy.  Antennas got knocked out in the last big storm.
Some would say that's a good thing.

Early morning beach scene 
Weekends get very busy with noisy Navy families from Athens but that gives us plenty of scope for gossip.
Week days are quiet with many retired couples. Talk amongst them is medical or political

An afternoon swim is quieter
We get plenty of exercise swimming and walking. Cars are parked for the duration and we go everywhere by foot.

The first few days we had gale force winds and we were sand blasted at intervals. But the winds have died and I've done a lot of swimming and even got the start of a tan.

We usually go in the last 2 weeks of September. July and August are difficult months to get a booking. 
By the end of September kids are back at school, the weather can be iffy and there are always free spaces.

A lot of Ks ex Navy friends would never think of coming here. Once they've left the Navy they want nothing more to do with it.  We take whatever's offered.

Monday 18 September 2023

Beach Scenes

Sand.  Pure, unsullied by sunbeds or half naked bods

Mid winter


Summertime Fun

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Big Band Sounds


Last of the summer outings
The Greek Navy band put on a concert on the waterfront.
K and I were one of the first there and got a table at a cafeteria nearby.  There were chairs put out in front of the bandstand and they soon filled up.  Far too close.  It was loud enough where we were sitting

They played for just under 2 hours which was plenty for me.  I knew most of the songs they played, greek of course, so that helped me enjoy it more.  K and his friend were singing and clapping along.
There were a couple of singers too, encouraging the crowd to clap and whistle.  I didn't see any dancing this time, except for our friend who got up and did a twirl around the table.   

It was a pleasant summer evening, we  had a few drops of rain, awnings were lowered but it passed over quickly and awnings were raised and umbrellas closed to get the harbour breeze.

Hurrying through the coffee and souvenir shops to grab a good table

On the way home we were treated to another concert.
I gave him a few euros. 
I love these street musicians. They give a few moments of pleasure as I pass by. 

Saturday 9 September 2023

Summer Cinema

 It was my last chance to go to the movies this year.  The cinema has closed now till next summer.  It's on a roof top, open air. 

My daughter and Grandaughter suggested we go and see 'Book Club'.  They picked me up in their car, took me by the hand and led me up the stairs to the roof.  Otherwise I probably would have been a stick-in-the-mud and stayed at home.   

When we reached the top of the stairs the film was already playing and it sure wasn't 'Book Club'.  We expected a comedy and got drama.  3 hours of 'Oppenheimer' and atomic bombs. 
Rain was forecast for the premier of 'Oppenhiemer' the next night so at the last minute they switched films.  The change was advertised on Facebook but none of us ever look at Facebook so it was a bit of a surprise.

Had I known, I would have googled Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb before I went.  I have read two reviews on recent blogs but  skipped over those briefly, never expecting to actually see the film.  Being recent history it was  interesting, just not what we had geared up to watch. 

When I go to the movies, once every few years, I like to be entertained, have a laugh and come out feeling  happy, ready for a beer, or a g&t and a souvlaki.  Usually

The flash of the bomb.  
The noise was tremendous.  Don't know how the people living in the houses right next door stand it night after night.
We didn't stay till the end. 
We left after the bombs exploded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I didn't see the bombs exploding either. I had to go to the loo. Too much diet coke. 
Granddaughter Poppi had a very early morning rising next day. She's the assistant coach for the younger Poros rowers and they had a long journey north to take part in competitions in Thessoloniki.

We got the gist, the story. The rest I read up on later. 

One of those houses used to belong to a priest (greek orthodox), a priest with 5, or 6, children. 
I remember many years ago watching him, amazed, instead of the film, as he came out onto the balcony with his long pony tail and his long black robes and proceeded to hang out the washing. 

My last visit to the movies was with my brother and sister in law.  I think it was 2019.

We saw 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
A comedy-drama
It was my era, my music
Described somewhere on the internet as
'a bonkers fairy tale in classic Tarintino style....brilliant screen studded cast..'  That about sums it up.
I loved it .............

But my grandaughters didn't understand it at all

Poros gets all the latest movies and a good variety.
I hope it's not 4 years before I go again. I think I like a night out at the movies, even if I don't eat popcorn and I shouldn't drink diet coke. What a glorious buttery smell the popcorn had.  I stuck my nose in my granddaughters popcorn bucket and got  a good whiff. 

Thursday 7 September 2023


September 1st we had a few spits of rain and we all talked about the end of August and the end of summer.  The cinema changed its programme expecting rain on their debut of Oppenheimer.  That didn't come to anything.
On Monday the heavens opened up and there's still a light pitter-patter now and again on Thursday night.
I think we can realistically talk about the end of summer and a change of seasons though I'm sure we have many more hot days to come. 

England's heatwave and Greeces storm are all part of an Omega block.  High pressure, which brings warm weather, becomes sandwiched between 2 low pressure systems.  It forms a shape like the Greek letter Omega.

The storm has been named Daniel, a name agreed upon by Greece, Cyprus and Israel.  It's going to continue on down to them once it's finished with us.  Get ready Yael!

I googled Daniel and discovered it has been used for 8 tropical cyclones since 1978, most of them centred around Hawaii.  So many names available. Why reuse this one?

The storm skirted around Poros but we did get plenty of torrential rain. The olive trees drank it all up.  The olive harvest starts in 2 months.  A very small harvest has been predicted this year because of the extreme heat and the price of a can of olive oil (17 litres) has already jumped from 60 euros to 120-150 euros.

Our garden got a very good watering, the car got a good wash and the dusty gritty road outside has had all it's rubble washed down to the fields below.  This weekend is predicted to be warm and sunny.  I expect the plants that are left will be growing inches overnight.  

Our rain gauge
  This bowl has filled up and overflowed many times over the last few days.  
Thank goodness we had no drips at all in the house.  In the last storm I was woken by drops of water on my face.  It's funny how leaks come and go.  It never seems to leak in the same place twice and now with so much heavy rain there were no leaks.

However.  Flooding further north has destroyed bridges and roads, turned villages into lakes and filled vast areas with metres of mud.  Many hundreds of people are trapped in their homes. 

Around here our main road out to Epidavros, Athens and beyond has been closed by falling rocks.  'They' estimate that it will take 5 months to clean up and reopen.  That means 5 months of winding up narrow mountain roads through small villages  to get out of the area.  

Sunday 3 September 2023

One Summer Afternoon

The heatwaves are over.  I hope.  We have visitors in the neighbourhood. All the houses are full.  There are cars coming and going.  The last of the summer out-of-towners.  
  Our elderly neighbour, Vaso, has her daughter visiting from the island of Lefkada where she was chief of police.

 Her son, an ex Navy officer, invited us for an ouzo on their patio. Vaso only had a basic education but she made sure all her children were well educated and had good jobs. Her other daughter was a school teacher .

Vaso is no longer in complete control of the 'estate'.  The younger generation is now giving the orders.  I think she's happy to relinquish control, at almost 90.  But she still gives her input, especially about the vineyard and the olive trees.  She's not happy if the work is not done to her standards.
Her son includes her in all the daily activities from peeling garlic, frying kilos of aubergines for their meals,  digging stones out of the fields or helping him reinforce their fences against the goats.  Actually she's the go-pher.  We hear him yelling 'Mana, bring me the wire cutters, bottle of water,  cigarettes' about 10 times a day. 

The Matriarch 

Their terrace-cum-patio is only 20 metres higher than us but their view, unlike ours, is spectacular.  We can see the lights of Athens on a clear night.  They enjoy the sight of the bay below, yachts and fishing boats plying their way from the big Port of Piraeus.      At night they can see the lights all the way down the coast of Athens and also the island of Aegina.


    Part of the vegetable garden under the olive trees.
    They grow or produce 90% of what they eat and drink.

We sat under the grapevines in a corner which gets the breeze coming up from the sea below

Everything except the ouzo and bread is from their land or made by them
small fish - brought from the island of Lefkada, pickled by the sister
smoked mackeral - also from Lefkada and prepared by Vaso's daughter
water - from their well
tomatoes and cucumbers -  from the garden
olives and oil from their trees
yellow split peas - made by me but not home grown
boiled eggs -from their chooks
wine - 2 varities, from their vineyard

Vaso has a good appetite.  After a few glasses of wine she had a cigarette or two and told us tales of her childhood. Stories which we have heard many times before but we are guests so we listen politely.  The bay below used to be full of large fish, sea urchins, octopus, kalamari, cockles  and limpets.  Nowadays they are a rare find.  It's illegal to take sea urchins, the shellfish have disappeared completely and you need a boat to go much further out into the bay to find a fish or an octopus.

We will reciprocate in a few days with fish and wine, their wine,  on our back terrace.