Tuesday 30 January 2024


 This latest storm sweeping through Greece has been named Αυγη, Dawn.  It's the first major storm of the year so it starts with an A. Ok . How about Aglaia (a Muse), Ariadne (famous for helping Theseus escape the Minotaur) , Athena (Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, Capitol of Greece), Aphrodite (Goddess of Love and Beauty). So many more interesting names, and those are only the female deities. There's Apollo (God of Music, Dance and Healing) , Aries (God of War). Then there are the ancient Greeks Aristotle, Alexander and Atlas.

And, I've forgotten what I originally started to write about. It wasn't a lesson in ancient Greek.

I was going to complain about the name of this storm. What's Dawn (Avgi)  got to do with it. But actually what have any of these storm names got to do with storms. 

The British Met office says it's easier to follow the progress of a storm on tv, radio or social media if it has a name.

They draw a name from a list submitted by the public. In years gone by they have used male and female names alternatively. This year they are using names of scientists, meteorologists and others 'who keep people safe in times of severe weather'. 

So there you have it, if you're British. 

In 2021 Greece, Cyprus and Israel formed an East Mediterranean storm naming group. The first storm name  was Athena. Fair enough. She must be the most well known Greek, besides Helen of Troy, and is the Goddess of War.

At the moment Avgi is bringing snow to northern suburbs of Athens and Northern Greece. 

It's a quick storm system bringing a low, for us, of 7oC today. By Friday it will be 15o. So they say.

We are having intermittent rain and sunshine here in the hills of our Greek island. We are sitting in front of the TV seeing the  havoc it's causing in other areas and enjoying the warmth of our wood fire. K has heated up his 'patsas', tripe soup, and I have some pork chops to cook on the wood oven.

K is drinking raki and I have a glass of rosé.

Here's to a new day and a slightly warmer dawn tomorrow. 

30 January is the feast day of the three Hierarchs of the Orthodox church, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian, and St John Chrysostom. They are the saints of education and so it's a school holiday.

My grandkids go to school in the morning and are taken en masse to church. At the end of the service, around 10am, they are free to go home or to go out for coffee with their friends .

If they don't go, to church, they have an absentee mark against them.

Monday 22 January 2024

Glitches and Gardens


Whoopee, K not only got the keyboard working but the computer no longer has that nasty glitch which added extra letters, turning for example, 'mobile' into 'mnob/ile'.  I can type away happily once again. One problem. The computer room is in the old part of the house, built with breeze blocks. I can't sit there for long.  It's freezing. 

We have a dehumidifier going all day which reduces the moisture in the air and does raise the temperature a little.  Still, it's not a room to linger in. 

Gratifying greenery in the front garden
Some of the nasturtium leaves are as big as dinner plates. They are slowly starting to flower. Soon there will be a symphony of yellow and orange flowers.

Primeval jungle in the back yard.
You never know what junk is hiding in that knee high wilderness.  

The yellow leafed tree is either a pear or an apricot. I hope it's just late changing leaf colour and not on its way out.

Healthy cauliflower grown on a balcony
My daughter Elli has green fingers.

My pitiful specimen, planted in the garden, ravaged by caterpillars, brown and dry before it's had time to mature

Friday 19 January 2024

Mid Winter

Midwinter. One of my favourite times of the year. Any time but midsummer is my favourite time. 

Some days are cold, some days are warm and sunny. Today it's 19o, 9o at the weekend and then we will have a week or two of Halcyon days with warm breezes and sunshiney days. Halcyon days are usual in January, normally a week or so of calm seas and blue skies towards the end of the month.

My viking-blooded daughter and grand-daughter went swimming yesterday.  I think it would be heart attack time if I even poked my big toe in the sea just now.

Green, green, my world is green 
The nasturtiums and clover are almost knee high.
On a sunny morning I throw the shutters open and breathe in the crisp fresh air. Green is good. 

Our second tonne of wood (the back of a pick up truck piled high) was delivered yesterday.
Olive and Carob wood.
Hopefully we will have enough wood till the beginning of March.

Thanks to another blog...
I was reminded that it's marmalade time. In our backyard jungle we have an orange tree, a mandarine tree, a grapefruit and a bitter orange.
After reading her blog post I ventured out in my slippers to pick some fruit. The bitter oranges (Seville?) are still small and green but I managed to find a few oranges and mandarines . The darn mandarines have more pips than juice. A variety from days gone by. 
It's dangerous out there in the jungle. The weeds are so lush I can't see where I'm stepping.  I managed the harvest thank goodness without falling face first into the primeval tangle.
Marmalade is done and dusted

I went and got, what I hope is my last vaccination.   In Greek it's called 'erpes ostiras' and thanks to Google translation I discovered it's for shingles.
There has been a campaign for over 60s to get vaccinated against it and one of Ks friends had a nasty, painful dose which lasted for months.
The campaign has been very successful because there's a shortage of the vaccine. We waited for 2 months till our friendly chemist found a supply.
I hope it's the last 'shot' I have for quite a while. 
My daughter drove me down and escorted me to have the vaccination. While I was being injected she perused the shelves. Did you know caster oil is very good for encouraging growth of eyelashes and eyebrows? And for dry skin. And you don't have to drink the stuff. You just spray it on. My granddaughter will tell us if it works.

Our big computer is playing up. I bought a brush to clean the keyboard and now the keyboard doesn't work. It's got some damn virus anyway. Every time I wrote an email it added extra letters. Every B was followed by an N, every P by an / . My nerves were so much on edge I had  to have a stiff whisky. Johnny Walker, with 45% alcohol. 

The car has been across to the mainland for a new water tank and spark plugs. Next thing on the list will be a new computer. 
One of my pastimes is writing and that computer is a necessity .

Cheers Big Ears


Monday 15 January 2024


Christmas has come and gone but a good old Sunday roast can be eaten all year round. I thought I'd tell you what I discovered about stuffing. 

 Yes, good old sage and onion stuffing.

For years we ate pork (at the Greek end of the table) and stuffed turkey (down the other end) for Xmas lunch. Alongside a table-full of other edible goodies. .

The turkey was a french one, deep frozen with a pop-up thermometer. Cheap and cheery. All the big supermarkets sold them at that time of the year. 3 euros a kilo. And the turkey was around 3 kilos.  K tried to persuade us to buy a local one, sold with head and feet, nasty black feathers under the wings. No way!!

Seeing them hanging by the neck in the butcher's shop, with drooping naked bodies and horrid yellow thorny toes was enough to put me off turkey for life.

Our french turkey, like an  oversized chook, was stuffed with traditional stuffing, breadcrumbs, lots of onion, a pinch of sage and a little oregano and mint, and maybe an egg. Very nice. And I always made an egg and lemon soup with the carcass.

 But really we all preferred chicken. So chicken it was for a few years . Stuffed the same way. Carcass made into soup.

Once the kids grew up we ventured into new realms. The 'foreign' side of the Greek family did anyway.

Stuffed chicken roll. Deboned chicken stuffed with ham, cheese and peppers. Since then we have stuck with this. Everyone, even a few Greeks, love it. We order it by the kilo ready rolled and stuffed. No fuss, cooks quickly. 

One problem. You can't stuff a chicken roll. 

I discovered Americans made pan stuffing, for some strange reason called dressing. Everyone loves stuffing so I made a large dish full. The first year it was ok, but it got better with every try. Plenty to eat and take home.

This year I discovered the Brits make things called stuffing balls.  I made a few of these to go with the dish of sage and onion dressing. 

They were a huge hit! Next year I'll double the recipe.

The Brits do a roast dinner best. Spuds, crisp on the outside, soft inside. Yorkshire puds.  A good gravy to bind it all together and a few brussel sprouts to give a bit of colour.

We also roast large pieces of orange sweet potato . In our house it's called 'kumara'.  Kumara is the name of the sweet potato brought to NZ by the Maori  a thousand years ago from the Pacific Islands. 

I could buy fresh parsnips from the British shop in Athens but my friend Jan and I are the only ones who have ever eaten a parsnip, and know the taste, so I don't bother. 

Do pigs in blankets go with a traditional roast dinner?  Small sausages wrapped in bacon for the uninitiated.  They appeal to me as an accompaniment but they might be too fussy to put together. 

What else does everyone eat with roast meat?



Wednesday 10 January 2024

9 or 7?

 There is an ancient proverb that says:

'A cat has 9 lives. For 3 he plays, for 3 he strays and for the last 3 he stays'

In NZ, Australia, the UK or the USA, cats, so it goes, have 9 lives.

In Greece, Spain and Germany, cats, they say, have only 7 lives.

In Turkey and some of the Middle East they have only 6 lives.

Cats are supposed to always land on their feet . They're extremely agile, sail through the air to land on a roof, or the top of your bookcase. They squeeze into small spaces, wriggle under our screen door to explore interesting smells in our rubbish bin, survive seemingly fatal accidents, climb tall trees and jump from great heights.  

Cats do usually land on four feet . They have the ability to twist in midair, have very good balance and a 6th sense

Cats survive. Mostly

Just had covid for the second time. Not much going on around here.

Snowing in the hills north of Athens.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

New Year

There are 10,001 New Year's traditions here, at least.
Here are a few we followed this year. 

Hanging a squill, big wild bulb, on the front gate
It was given to us all wrapped, beribboned and with a loop to hang it up.
I've got to the stage of 'if it's not easy then forget it.'
It symbolises wealth and growth, so they say. Heaven knows why.
I'm all for a bit of wealth coming my way. It can hang there till it doesn't .

Our poor little pomegranate. 
The first footer goes out and smashes the pomegranate against the door.  The more the seeds spread out the more luck will come to the household.

The pomegranate (rodi in Greek) was left over from the Christmas coleslaw. I got out the carving knife and made big cuts in the top so it would explode all over the place. Only it didn't explode . It was more of an im-plode.
It was rotten inside. A few seeds did spill out.  
It was lucky for me. No big mess to clean up this year.
Who really believes in this stuff anyway.

The Vassilopita, sweet New Years cake, made by Elli.  Really good and beautifully decorated . I forgot about meat eating and ate a big piece of this, and a few chocolates too.
The Vassilopita has a coin in it and naturally the person who gets the slice with the coin is guaranteed a year of good luck.
The slices are cut, the first for the house and fields (what fields), the 2nd for the Virgin Mary and then  slices are cut for the oldest in the family, going down to the youngest, dogs, cats and the hamster.
K was the lucky one this year.

At lunch the New Years bread was cut the same way by our son-in-law. Bread made by K,  a great success.
 Guess who found the coin. The Patriarch of our Greek family found it again.  2 out of 2.
What with wild onion bulbs, pomegranates and lucky coins he's in for one helluva year. I hope some of this luck and wealth rubs off onto me.
I'd better be an obedient Greek wife this year, walk 2 paces behind him and nod my head at his wise words . I'm Laughing Out Loud 

There is the coin wrapped in silver paper at the bottom of the slice of bread. His win, fair and square. The next slice was mine. Out of luck this time Linda.

And here he is.
The Man of the Year for 2024