Thursday 11 April 2024

Spring Clean Up

 I got some help this weekend


Pruning the thorny white bougainvillia



Nels and Poppi replanting celery.  We will have celery coming out of our ears soon if we don't start eating it.  Celery, the leafy kind, called selino here, is sold with the roots still attached.  We have 3 pots of the stuff now. This 'pot' is an old washing up bowl.  It grows very easily, as does the parsley which has turned into a bush

K got the annual clean up of his back yard over with. An able bodied Albanian lad did an excellent job.  He filled up 14 huge black rubbish bags with weeds and plastic rubbish hidden in the jungle.




Before



After

The front yard is my domain.  The garden is still nice and green.  The clover/sorrel is starting to wilt a little but the nasturtiums have begun to flower, yellow and orange blooms, the mint is taking over the bed by the entrance .  And there is no rubbish in my territory.  
What was left of the big winter wood pile has been taken to the back of the house, and stacked.  Slowly I'm sweeping and cleaning chairs, tables and shutters ready to arrange our summer sitting place




The front roadway should be weed-whacked but in the meantime the knee-high weeds have been cut back.  In a month's time they'll probably be knee-high again.  Unless this heat continues and dries them all out.

Now that wall needs white washing for Easter





Saturday 6 April 2024

Sunset

 Poros at dusk.  Photos taken by another granddaughter.


This is taken from the car ferry.  Looking towards the main town.


And from  their balcony looking over the strait to the hills of the mainland


And here she is.  Or isn't.  
This child does not like having her photo taken.  Obviously
Thanks Natali. See, I didn't put your photo on the blog!
Or not your face anyway

😅😅😅😅😅😅😅

Thursday 4 April 2024

Nels

 

Just boasting.......

Nels. No, not Poppi this time. 

Nels. Sister of Poppi.

Dietician. Nutritionist. Beautician. Athlete. Rower.

She has put many family members on weight losing diets. We're a family of losers thanks to her

This is the granddaughter who runs 15ks, phone in one hand, taking photos without breaking stride.

She has dozens of medals and cups for rowing but gave it up to study.


A few years ago.....
Rowing for Poros
All the grandchildren have tried rowing and they've all won medals. It's naturally a popular pastime on a Greek island.


Her hobby is hair styling, fashion and beauty.
For friends.
And her grandmother


I got my nails done.

Poros island, permanent population around 4,000, has many talented young people and has produced a few world champions.

An Olympic silver medalist for rowing at the Beijing Olympics.
Poros also had rowers at the 1960, 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
 European and Balkans Triathlon winner. 
European and Balkans WaterSki champion.
European and Balkans Kayak and Canoe gold medalists

Nels will be working on the island of Lipsoi this summer .
Give it a Google. It has been named the best holiday island in Greece.   It's an island of unspoiled beauty, not a party island.

Lipsoi
Tiny island in the Dodecanese
Population 800
 Crystal clear waters 
Sandy beaches
Fresh seafood from the Aegean
Homegrown lamb and goat
Thyme honey
Local cheeses
Fokiano - sweet local red wine
3 day Wine Fest every August

                    






Tuesday 2 April 2024

Phenomenon

 Sea Fog.  

 Formed when very cold air moves over warmer water.


Sea fog is a very rare occurrence. 
I've never heard of it before.

We noticed the other day coming down to the harbour that there were strange clouds hanging low on the hills opposite. Fortunately a friend of ours took photos and a video.




A thick cloud of Saharan dust covers the city of Athens.
Not my photo


182 million tons of dust (sand) is carried away from the Saharan desert every year
How long will it take to empty the Sahara???
The dust can be carried as far as Europe, the UK and even the US, depending on wind patterns.
It is full of minerals and is good for the garden. However it can cause breathing difficulties, heart congestion and eye irritation.
The present dust storm seems to be going on for over a week. I've got stinging eyes and a headache.
The dust is very hard to get rid of. Our car, which is not under cover, has to be well soaped and rinsed. Flagstones have to be cleaned with soapy water too but often there are orange stains which only disappear with time.
It's supposed to dissipate tomorrow. 

Did anyone hear of a decent April Fool's prank?
In years gone by there were always a few joke news reports. I've heard nothing so far.
Is the world suffering too much to stop for a few minutes of light entertainment?




Saturday 30 March 2024

March Pruning

 Pruning time.  Our gardener finally found some time to clean up the vines and roses.  Poppi has been doing this job for 4 or 5 years now and she does a damn good job.  Her arms are strong from rowing and she wields the secateurs with confidence.


This year K told her to cut the grapevine right back.  There was a lot of old wood.  Never mind the long vines whipping around in the wind. She sheared it right back almost to the thick main stem, collected all the cuttings and piled them up in the back yard for K to use on his BBQ.


Look at those nasturtiums.  They have taken over my front yard this year.  Some of the leaves are as big as dinner plates.  They would have smothered any other plants in the garden but I hadn't really planted a winter garden this year. All I had was a few cauliflowers and lettuces in pots.  And one stunted kohlrabi.


One reason for severe pruning is to stop the grapevine later from growing out onto next door neighbours driveway.
She cut the roses well down too. They were reaching for the power lines. 
I bet in a couple of months time they'll all have turned into veritable bushes. It's difficult to over-prune grapevines or roses . Or olive trees. 




Nasturtiums, lemons and no rubbish in my front garden

Maybe I should rename this blog. Lately it seems to be...

'The Life of Poppi'







Wednesday 27 March 2024

Independence Day

 Greek Independence Day, 25th March. The celebrations mark the beginning of the uprising, in 1821, to throw out the Turks. 

Greece was finally recognised as an Independent state in 1830.

Poros marks the day with a church service, followed by wreath laying, speeches, a parade of school children and finally Greek dancing in traditional costumes.


There was a huge military parade in Athens and the highlight is a flyover of jet airplanes. 
One of the pilots is a local lad and he gave Poros and the surrounding villages their own special air display.
He flew right down over the strait between the island and the mainland and came back even lower saluting us all with a wiggle of the wings.
The noise was tremendous. The airshow spectacular.
We all cheered and clapped . 


Our Poppi once again. Leading the dance wearing the folk costume known as the  Amelia dress.  

Friday 22 March 2024

Seafood and Sunshine

 Monday, start of Orthodox Lent, was a beautiful sunny day. We started off bundled up but by 3 o'clock the youngsters had stripped down to Tshirts and I took off my top layer too. 


The Octopus was hung out on my washing line to dry a little before it went on the bbq

Feasting took place at my daughter's house. Not ours this year




The tentacles were so big  our chief bbq-er skewered them and made them into octopus souvlaki


There was seafood and more seafood
Mussels in a mustard sauce, octopus, crabs, kalamari, spiky sea urchins (kina in Maori) and prawns  

And lagana, the special flat bread eaten today



Poppi filling up a wine bottle from our 20 litre wine boxes. There's white and rose



Friend Jan and K

And the family dogs



Molly the Old English sheep dog


Boem the cocker spaniel (also called Rusty when I can't remember his proper name)



Junior, an Asian breed, with a name like jujitsou (but it's not)

And me and my girls


Next weekend is another long weekend.
Monday is a National holiday














Sunday 17 March 2024

Octopiii

 Octopii are an important part of the Lenten menu because they have no *blood and can be eaten all through the long fast.  They are also an essential item on the menu when visitors arrive in the summer.


We have started filling up the freezer. 



But this one, what remains of it , caught by grandson Jamie with his trusty trident, will be eaten this Monday. 

It's a long weekend. Monday is Kathara Deftera, Clean Monday.

We will be eating kalamari fried and grilled, mussels, crabs, octopus done 3 ways and taramasalata (fish roe dip). 
Each of the men of the family are cooking octopus in their own special way.
Kyriakos makes stewed octopus with vinegar and olive oil. It's tender and tasty and you can dip your bread in the vinegar and oil. Not me though.  

K prefers grilled octopus.
He dries it first by pegging it out on my washing line. 
 Octopus bbqed this way is too chewy for my taste.


I dont know how Yiannis is cooking his octopus . Maybe with makaroni or with whole onions.  Both are popular. 
We will find out on Monday when we all gather for the family feast at my daughter's house.

Meanwhile the word is out and anyone catching an octopus has K's number.

*Octopii are supposed to have blue blood. 
An octopus has 3 hearts
They are super smart 
Excellent at camouflage. 
Move by jet propulsion. 
They're found in every ocean in the world. 



Friday 15 March 2024

14 March

 Look at this photo. The colours, the clear water, the fearless bather


Yes, it's Poppi again with Rusty, their cocker spaniel...enjoying a cool winter swim.
It was around 16oC yesterday.  The water? Freezing. I'm sure. 

Her sister went for a 13 kilometre run instead.




She gave us a wave as she passed our cul de sac up in the hills



Wednesday 13 March 2024

March Meats

 


A Get Well 
Welcome Home 
Present

Thursday was *Tsiknopempti, the last big meat eating day before Lent. 
K was going to BBQ a pile of meat and I had a bottle of prosecco saved just for an occasion like this.... Good food and the company of a good friend.
Jan has been a member of our family for many many years. 
Her English wit, perception of Greek foibles and sharp rejoinders have brought me a lot of laughter over those years. 

But, that was the day we learnt of our friend's passing. K, our head Chef, was immediately away to arrange papers and help the family. 

K had done all the preparation the night before, marinating mutton chops, preparing the hamburger 'dough', making pork souvlaki and taking **kebabs from the freezer. 
It was easy for me to  ***shape ****burgers and put them in the oven with a few potatoes. We changed ovens recently and I'm still not quite up with it's times and temperatures. They ended up a bit overcooked but were fine with some quickly made gravy, tzatziki, Greek salad and the prosecco.
I cooked them 'foreign style'. No lemon juice and very little olive oil. 

The main course of the day was catching up on recent events in our lives. In the English language. 
It was better K was absent. We don't catch up very often and when we do it's endless chatter in English which K can't keep up with. It drives him mad. 

Thanks Jan for the beautiful flower. I don't know what it's called. Anyone got a name for it? 
She gave me the prosecco too, at Christmas. 

Cheers

*Tsiknopempti - literally smokey Thursday. The smoke is from the meat grilling on the BBQ 

**kebabs are long tubes of spicy minced meat

***To shape dough is to 'plath' - one of my favourite greek words. It means to shape dough, for biscuits, bread, burgers, with your hands

I Plath.. platho 
You Plath.. platheis
We all plath.. plathoume 

****Burgers in Greek are bifteki






Sunday 10 March 2024

Marching On

 Life ebbs and flows. Yesterday we were at a funeral of a close friend.


After the church and interment everyone gathers at the cafeteria next to the graveyard, beside the sea, for a small Greek coffee, mastiha liqueur and a sweet biscuit. 
I didn't wait around to witness the burial. Arm in arm with my daughter I retreated to the cafĂŠ, out of the cold. 

It's a chance for everyone, as they leave the Cafe, to pay their respects to the mourning family and wish the deceased a peaceful ever-after, 
or a long life to the family that remains that they may keep his/her memory alive.

Those that linger on, close family and friends usually, stay for soup and wine.
Sometimes it's meat soup.  This time it was fish soup, served with platters of the boiled fish and vegetables. With plenty of wine.
It was delicious but I put too much pepper in the soup and had to wash each spoonful down with some wine. I drank just a little more than I intended. But I'm not on a restricted diet . Just a restricted lifestyle.

The church was freezing and the constant stand-up-sit-down tired me out. Everytime it's stand-up time: for the appearance of the priest from his sanctuary, for the sending of clouds of  incense from the big swinging burner, or for a prayer, K nudges me in case I'm inattentive. In the end I decided I was a recovering patient and stayed seated. 

RIP Petros


Wednesday 6 March 2024

Continuing with March

 What the heck was all that about yesterday with the 'outage' of Facebook and Instagram. 

Thank goodness most of it went down during siesta but K was not at all happy to find, when he woke up, that he was blocked from Facebook. He spends hours on it checking up on his friends and the local buzz.

When it came back I managed to get him straight back in . I couldn't get mine to work till the next morning. Not that it worried me. I only have Facebook so I can use Messenger and follow Poros activity pages.

They made me change the password . I hate having to change passwords. Who remembers the damn things. Or where I've written them down. Or if I've  made a note when I've  changed one. 

Marching onwards...

Forgot to add the change to summertime at the end of the month. I don't like changing times but summer-time is preferable to winter-time. It means longer, warmer days. 

Granddaughter Poppi was given an award last week for being one of Poros' top athletes. She is on her way upward to the National rowing team, spends hours training every week and races  all over the country. 

School trips.

 Two of my grandchildren are in their last year at High School and this is the month they go on their 5 day end-of-school excursion. Then they knuckle down to study for their higher education exams in June.

Jamie is in Thessaloniki (Capitol of the North) at the moment with his class and  Poppi will be going up to Ioannina (city in the North west near Albania) next week with her class. Poppi has been there before competing in rowing races on Lake Pamvotida. 



Jamie and Poppi

Police chief . The new Police chief is showing his presence handing out parking tickets, performing breathalyser tests and giving fines for motorbike riders without helmets and licences. Hard days for the Islanders who are used to a more laid back regime. But it will probably stop in a day or a week, as he settles into the rythym of island life. 

All our neighbours are busy pruning their olives trees and burning the lopped off branches. The fire ban begins on 1st April.


Piles of vine prunings.  We haven't pruned our own grape vine yet but his friends are bringing their trimmimgs to adorn our front yard.  K likes to collect them to use on the BBQ


And then there are name days. Plenty of those in March.


And then comes April.

 


Tuesday 5 March 2024

March Merriment

-  Sunday 3 March

Tou Asotou.  Feast of the Prodigal Son


K considers this as his personal day of celebration along with all his friends. Naughty boys now grown old and grey and kept under control by their doctors.

- 8th March

International Women's Day.  This used to be a huge celebration on the island.  The older women would dress up in their Sunday best, joining up with friends. First for a meal and then to dance on tables at the waterfront bars.  I went a few times with my sister-in-law but backed out as soon as she found other company.  Not my idea of fun. 

Nowadays there are still groups of girls and women that gather for a drink and a laugh.  However it's nothing like the good old days when Poros women would take over the tavernas and bars and dance all night.

- Tsiknopempti

Smokey Thursday.  The last big meat eating day before Lent.  Next week is Cheese Week and then comes Clean Monday which marks the beginning of the Orthodox Lent.  Greek Easter isn't till 5 May this year.

On meat eating Thursday we will be having a BBQ and eating lamb chops, kebab and sausages with Greek salad, lots of tzatziki and more than a few glasses of bubbly Prosecco.

- Carnival.  Carnival festivities are ramping up .  The last weekend before Lent there are huge parades and celebrations of local customs  all over the country.  Our Municipality organises activities for the local children who all come in costume.  The schools put on a masquerade party and bbq in the school yard .  

-  18 March  

Kathara Deftera. Clean Monday.  First day of Lent.  The beginning of the long fast.

This is a public holiday and a huge celebration.  Hopefully the weather will be fine.  It's a long weekend and Poros will be full of Greek visitors.  Tavernas will sell mountains of fried kalamari, octopus, shellfish, and sell gallons of wine and ouzo.  Ouzo is 'the' drink with shellfish, octopus and squid.

If there's any sort of a breeze then children, with any adults left standing, will be out trying to fly a kite.

For the 7 weeks of Lent very strict followers of the Orthodox church will eat no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, drink no wine and on certain days of the week abstain from olive oil as well.   Not many follow these rules.  My sister-in-law usually does the full fast and members of the family are known to stop eating meat for the duration.  


- March 25th 

Church festival and the day marking the start of the revolt, in 1821,  against Turkish occupation and oppression.  There will be church services, the laying of wreaths under the War Memorial, speeches and a parade by school children.  Then we usually gather at a family home and eat salt cod, beetroot and garlic sauce.  It is one of the few days during Lent when it is permitted to eat fish, and drink wine of course.

All these plus St Patrick's day and 2 family birthdays.





Friday 1 March 2024

1st March





It is tradition on 1st March to make a bracelet with red and white thread. 


Or buy one


It is worn to welcome Spring but also is said the protect the wearer from getting burnt in the springtime sun which can be stronger than you realise.
It's worn till the end of March and then hung on a tree so the birds can pick at it and use it for nest making.
Or it's worn till May Day and burnt on a bonfire .
Or it's worn till Easter and burnt on the coals that roast the lamb.

In actual fact it gets very tatty very fast and usually breaks or falls off. 


My crochet effort

Children plait them at school today out of embroidery cotton. 





Wednesday 28 February 2024

It's Over


Surgery all done and dusted.

The Greek health system works well.  I had excellent treatment in our  rural small- city hospital. My stay and surgery was free. I had a sympathetic doctor, nurses who were always cheery and on the ball.

We gave 'thank you' money to the doctor and anaesthetist but neither had their hands out.

Some demand and some don't. 

A year ago I had my cataract operation at this hospital.  The eye doctor wouldn't even set a date for my cataracts until he saw that fat little white envelope with a 'deposit'.  His manner changed in an instant and my 2 year wait was suddenly over.

It's a corrupt system, illegal, not helped by us. But it's hard to know what to do.  

We had a wee upset when getting the once-over from the cardiologist.  He told me I was a high risk patient, something to do with 2 valves. He insisted I must have had trouble walking and wouldn't have been able to climb stairs without being very short of breath and dizzy. Whereas  I've  never felt fitter. My own cardiologist gave me a scan 3 months ago and pronounced me in great condition, and stands by that now . 

The problem would have been with the anaesthesia. The anaesthetist asked me a whole load of questions, said the hospital doc was known to over exaggerate but decided on an epidural drip. 

That's a weird feeling, not being aware of my body below the waist. Listening to doctors and nurses chatting as they take my insides out, snip off bits and pieces and replace it all, correctly.

 The day before my surgery K was sent off to another rural hospital to pick up 2 litres of blood. My daughters are blood donors and the procedure, on paper, is handled by the local council.  It wasn't needed but they like to have it on standby.  That's the 2nd time he has transported blood in our car.  It's usually done by ambulance but they were all tied up.

The gyno ward is in the old part of the building and there were only 2 of us there. An Albanian girl who had a cesarian in one room and me in another. We both departed  the same day, leaving an empty ward.

The rooms on this ward are old.  No TV because there are no connections.  It would have helped to pass the days after surgery, especially for K who sat by my bedside all day. I had a book  and both had our phones, and a plug to recharge. The central heating was a bit noisy but kept me warm as toast day and night.

The bathroom was clean but ancient.  Toilet bowl without a lid, small basin and a shower head attached to the wall without either a shower tray or a curtain.  It would have been a very wet room if I had wanted to use it. 

I had a room mate for a few hours on the first day. May the woman live long and healthily, but nowhere near me, please.  Ye gods and little fishes. She spoke in a ringing voice to everyone all day long. She phoned all her friends and told them all in detail, and very loudly, why she was there, a minor procedure. She introduced herself, and me, to everyone from the cleaner to the trolley bearer. She wouldn't shut up. 


The only photo I took
Old hands

Like most rural hospitals many of the patients are Roma (gypsies).  They never come alone.  The whole family tags along, from babe in arms to ancient matriarch.  They're noisy and the kids run along the corridors, opening and closing doors.  At nights when the hospital was on standby duty I could hear them down in the yard yelling at each other.  A few months ago there was a gunfight at this hospital when 2 families got into an argument.
All part of the colour.

Food.  I can't complain because I was there for surgery.  However, after 2 days of nothing and 3 days of boiled chicken and soupy rice it was getting boring to say the least.  The sound of the dinner trolley is the day's excitement.  It got to be a joke between us and the trolley lady.  Boiled chicken again.  On the last day I got roast chicken.  What a delight.
I lost 2 kilos.

So I'm home and recovering.







Tuesday 20 February 2024

Zapped


From a blog post written 

Friday 31 March 2017

Have you suffered from the evil eye?  I have. Sometimes it is a feeling of illness, other times it maybe some sort of accident. 

 Once, all dressed up for a wedding, I was told I looked radiant.  I stepped out onto the road and fell flat on my face.  All was well with the wedding outfit but not my face.  No-one noticed how 'radiant' I was looking because all they saw was a big red scab on the end of my nose. 

The evil eye can also be sent by thoughts of envy or just plain nastiness or even unconsciously by someone with blue or green eyes.  If looks could kill.  The laser-like rays of some glances can cause disaster.

Soon after we bought our house we came one evening to clean up after the builders and as usual it turned into a semi-party with the arrival of children and grandchildren.  As we left we had to pull over  to allow our next door neighbour to pass in her car.   We still hadn't formally met her though of course she knew who we were and we knew her by name.

As our cars passed, in convoy, on the narrow lane she gave  us a penetrating stare.  Lo, but the first car knocked off its wing mirror turning the first corner onto the main road.  Our own car developed an oil leak and we only just managed to make it home.  As we walked into our old house the hot water pipe burst flooding the kitchen.

She was also the one who walked into the house just as I took a cake out of the oven. It had risen nicely ...... until a few minutes after she left. The middle of the cake collapsed. It looked like a darn volcanic crater.

She is such a nice lady but we are always careful now and furtively spit three times when in her presence and 'turn us all about'.

So have a good day and I spit on you!

Evil Eyes

 Eyes have deadly rays that can bring harm to others said ancient Greek writer Plutarch. 

The evil eye is a big part of Greek culture. Even the Greek church acknowledges it and has a special prayer to cure those suffering

You are afflicted by the evil eye when someone gives you a false compliment, thinks envious thoughts or sends ill wishes.  

In our house, the car,  we have blue eye symbols to avert the curse. You can also wear an item of clothing inside out. 

Spitting 3 times after giving a compliment will confuse the devil and keep the evil eye away. It also tells the person you're admiring that you're genuine in your feelings.

What happens when you're stricken? K will start non-stop yawning and he might get a headache and feel nauseous. You just feel unwell and weak.

When I first arrived in Greece many moons ago all the taxis had blue eye amulets and beads hanging over the dashboard and every donkey had blue beads hanging over it's head or around it's ears.

If you do receive  negative energy and start excessive yawning then the answer is to phone an aged aunt who knows how to remove the curse. They may know a special prayer or use appropriate words over a glass of water with a drop of oil. Another way is to cross your arms, hands under your armpits, and say the Lord's Prayer 3 times.

Either way, spit on yourself 3 times when you're finished and shake yourself to send the evil eye away. 

Here are some of the blue eyes and beads we have around us



From the baptism of a friend's baby. Sugared almonds in a blue bag with the eye to keep the baby safe


Blue beads and a small eye on my quad bike keys. Along with a kiwi 


A crocheted eye given to us by a friend


Garlic and fish net hanging over our gate. To stop visitors with ill intent entering....so they say. 




An evil eye charm for the car key ring. Not quite sure what the elephant has to do with it


A new wine brand with the eye on it's label 
Not cheap! Guarantee of a good vintage? Perhaps