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


 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 

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. 


*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 cafĂ©, 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.