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

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Big Fat Greek Wedding

I thought the cinema had closed down till next summer.  Then my daughter phoned and asked me if I wanted to go and see
My Big Fat Greek Wedding No 3
Of course I did

It's had bad reviews, even in Greece
We loved it

The way to really appreciate this film is to go and see it with 4 crazy greek girls.  Preferably watch it on a roof top at an open air cinema on a greek island.  
All of us roared with laughter all the way through.   
Such a good take-off of greek culture, greek mothers, aunts and cousins. 

It's good light entertainment.
Someone said
' it was a big, fat, jolly, ride through absolutely amazing scenery.'

We were all googling away to see where it had been filmed or if the island had a name.  It seems to have been filmed mainly on Corfu (Kerkyra) with bits and pieces from other islands and villages.  

The music was great and of course we recognised most of that too.
And the dancing

There were heartwarming scenes and I gave a sniff or two.  One big sniff, sniff came as they exited Athens airport and stepped on Greek soil for the first time.  
Unbelievable but, yes, you're in Greece .  It's hot, it's full of ancient ruins and they do drink an awful lot of frappe (iced coffee) and it's strong.

Greeks really do believe that every word, probably even nachos, has a greek root 
  Greek 'voodoo' (the evil eye) is still alive and kicking

There was a big fat foreign head  blocking the screen.  The tallest guy on Poros decided to sit in front of us.  So we moved over a couple of seats.

Every 4 or 5 chairs there's a handy table so you can put your cigarettes, ashtray (without someone's old gum) and drinks on it and make yourself comfortable.

And what did we eat and drink?
This time it wasn't popcorn

One daughter got a box of nachos with a cheesy sauce on top
Oh wow.  I was tempted but I didn't have any

The other 3 crazy greek girls had souvlaki
It's a tradition.  You buy souvlaki at the shop down the road and smuggle it upstairs in your big bag brought for the occasion .
Actually you don't need to smuggle it in. They're used to it. We all buy our drinks up there and they sell loads of nachos, popcorn, chips and beer. 

So it was a real greek experience.
  A comedy and four laughing-out-loud greek 'girls' chowing down on nachos and souvlaki oozing garlicky tzatziki, tomato and gyro.
And  a cigarette or 2 as well


as in 'let go. enjoy yourself, you're in Greece'