Thursday, 27 January 2011

Frosty reception...

Getting bits into the muslin to make it set.
Well it seems that over night last night there was a frost on some parts of the Island and although it was a cold night here I never saw any frost.  Mike next door said that when Tree and he picked up their car at Lefkas bus station last night they had to scrape it before they could set off home.  Also on "Tortusvill"'s blog, she's posted a picture of her frosted car hope we ain't in for the same type of global warming which the UK has been suffering from!

Anyone for fresh orange juice?
Sandra has been making some more marmalade this week to take home as presents, it's turned out very nice too so it may not survive long enough to get back to the UK.  Again she's been up to her eyes in cooking for most of the week there's no wonder that I am such a fat bugger, I really ought to eat less but then again I don't like waste (or is it waist, but I must like that I have enough) so I'll have to continue my progress towards being "man-mountain"!

 Sandra has been to visit a guy in Hospital yesterday called Tony who unfortunately suffered a stroke only a few days after his good lady's funeral.  You can take Sandra out of the nursing but you can't take the nursing out of Sandra.  I stayed at home and plonked away with the guitar most of the day taking advantage of the fact that no one could witness the caterwauling.

The Almond blossom coming out hand over fist
The Almond blossom is coming out thick and fast at the moment and it makes a very spectacular sight all over the hill sides.  Also all the orange and lemon trees are full to bursting, it seems such a shame that most of these will probably go to waste as I think it probably costs more money to harvest these fruits than what the farmer can get for them at market.  Perhaps they need to start making marmalade as well!
More oranges than you can throw a hat at 

We have been burning quite a bit of fuel as the weather has definitely taken a colder turn so I've been logging up some of the stuff we had piled up for drying.  We have also been raiding the local dump as someone had put tons of good logs in six foot lengths there.  We decided just to take a little as we weren't sure of the "form" after all they may have been just leaving them there to return to as they needed the wood for their own fires.  Two days after we got a few bits the whole lot was flattened with a JCB and lost under tons of soil and stone.  He who hesitates is lost!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A ride out...

Fear not for whom the bell tolls...
We had Tony, Liz, Debbie and Jeremy around for a meal on Sunday, Traditional Sunday roast beef with veggies and Yorkshire pudding.  The only problem which Sandra had was the bloody Stanley cooker (ARGA type thing) decided it was going to play silly buggers and stopped working just nicely after the Yorkshire's went in thus it was a while later when Sandra noticed that the oven was losing temperature.  We turned off our cooker and then went downstairs into Liz's house and switched on her standard electric cooker to try and salvage them, a few minutes later with ours resetting itself it decided to come back to life.  So the girls trooped down again and returned the puds to their original furnace to get fit.  Of course they were flat you wouldn't really expect anything else would you!  Anyway the meal went down very well apart from this minor mishap.  As Sunday was my birthday our guests came bearing gifts all very much to my immense embarrassment.  A boxed set of DVDs of the series West-wing from Debs and Jez and a multitude of little gifts from Tony and Liz including gardening gloves and jars for storing our newly produced marmalade.  We both had a fantastic day so our thanks to the guys for coming.
The view from Aghios Ilios

On Monday we thought as it was a wonderful sunny day we would get on with some work, Sandra cleaning baking and cooking and me bringing yet another tree under control for Mike and Tree next door.  It took most of the day to get it all chopped down to a reasonable size as it was huge and growing on a sheer bank so mostly ladder work.  Anyway by the time I had it all down San was available to help me clear all the resultant fuel out of the way, it was just about getting dark at 6 o'clock when we got it finished.
Part of the early warning set-up above Eglouvi

Sandra stopping any of the wells escaping!
With aches and pains in abundance we decided that Tuesday would be a day of rest and we would go for a ride across the island to explore some of the areas we have not previously been to.  We went down to Syvros and turned up towards Aghios Ilios which takes you right up toward the early warning stations with some great panoramic views.  Onwards then toward Eglouvi where we stopped to have a look at some derelict windmills, a small church and a group of about a dozen wells spaced only a few feet apart.  There was an old farmer and his wife working nearby, they explained to us that we could get the water to drink as it was blessed by the church.  His daughter then arrived and she could speak good English and she went on to explain that the area up there was famous for growing lentils and they were very expensive at 10 Euros per kilo.  Behind the church up in the rocks there appears to be some kind of a shelter probably used by the shepherds when they are up in the mountains but as the farmer and his family had gone by then I couldn't ask.  We then moved on to have a look at Karya.  This is the place which Sandra's dad seemed to enjoy when we brought him to the island last year, in fact he liked it so much that he actually got his hand in his pocket and spent some money on a hand made carpet, not a common sight although I do seem to remember him insisting that we asked for a discount for cash!
We stopped for a coffee and got accosted by Brenda, and ex-pat Lancastrian who runs a kafenion in the main street of Karya.  She can sear like a trooper in fact she almost embarrassed me, I did say almost!    Brenda told us where we could find a taverna which we had heard about from some other people in nearby Vafkeri so we thought we would go and give that a try for some late lunch.  Alison and Pete run the place, again another couple of English ex-pats but they produced some great food and reasonably priced so we spent a couple of hours with them before coming home via Nidri.
Shepherds shed??

Wednesday night was curry night again at Porto, the coffee house on Lefkas Marina.  Again Maureen organised the event and it was well attended especially as many of the regulars are now back in the UK or wherever their home base is.  Good night, good food and good company and home in time to watch the footy well I sky plussed  it so even though it was half over I could watch it from the beginning.  Unfortunately Leeds lost but didn't disgrace themselves, so that's the cup over for another year.  

What did that Brenda just say??

Spent today sorting out a computer for Keith has he's out of memory (he meant hard disk disk) so it's kept me out of mischief for the day.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

What's all this sunshine then?

The village kids on New Years morning in our kitchen.
 I forgot to mention in last weeks blog but we had a group of kids came around on new years morning singing seasonal Greek songs and playing their own accompaniment.  They were very good and reminded us of when kids used to go around carol singing in the UK before the days of political correctness and paedophiles.

What a beautiful couple of days we have just had, Mike next door has just said that the thermometer on his terrace is reading 28.4C although admittedly it's actually in the sun not the shade, I would say it's around the 18C mark though which isn't bad for mid January.  It is the first time this year that I am writing this outside on the patio though!

On Monday I finally got around to chopping down the bulk of Mike's mulberry and almond trees, and also testing out the new chain saw which Sandra has bought me for my birthday.  It has opened up the view from their villa a great deal and also will make it much easier to prune them all next year as they are now reachable without having to get the ladder out.  The downside is that with being curtailed quite severely they will grow like hell this year but this is a small price to pay.  The plus side is that we have gained a whole load of wood to squirrel away for next winters fuel. We went ten pin bowling in Lefkas town on the night and had a great night, about 16 of us in all but a great couple of hours and a right laugh.  Once again I was beaten by Sandra who seems to always be able to pull out a strike or spare at the last minute.  I think this is yet another sport at which I'm not destined to be world champion!  Thanks to Maureen for organising the event I think everyone enjoyed it immensely.

The view of our house (left) and Mikes from the olive groves.
We decided to go and see the villagers at Assos again yesterday, it was our first visit this year and they were all clamouring to wish us "chronia polla" (many years) the traditional new years (or any other occasion for that matter) greeting.  Not much seems to have changed, life in the kafenion keeps going on in it's same slow plodding way but this is the attraction of rural Greece nothing ever seems to phase them apart from the political shenanigans going on via the TV.  This seems to make the blood boil with all the locals who see their cost of living going up almost daily and are powerless to do anything about it.  Petrol is now about the same price as it is in the UK but Diesel is still a little cheaper although the difference is nowhere near the 30% it used to be a couple of years ago. 

Looking down on our village "Vournikas" from the Olive Grove
We have managed to get a couple of walks in since new year but nothing to energetic as yet as Sandra has been a little under the weather with a slight tummy bug, this seems to have passed now so hopefully we will be doing some local exploring soon and not before time having been here three months now and not seen all the village never mind the local area.  All this socialising isn't good for you!

We are going out tonight for a meal with our good friends Linda and Kevan on their boat.  We are really looking forward to this as it seems ages since we have had the chance of a good chinwag, perhaps more about that next week.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy revellers one and all!
Kev with his Flanagan and Allen coat and not much else!
It was a hectic start to the week with the new years celebrations which were held at a hotel in Lefkas town.  A very good meal was provided for sixty plus ex-pats who came to see in the new year together.  The event was organised by Liz and Debbie and a great job they made of it too.  The hotel put on an excellent spread and the wine flowed all night (and well into the morning) all paid for in the ticket price of 20 Euro per person.  Many people got dressed up for the occasion even a Scotsman in full kilted regalia.  Sandra and I shared our meal because there was just too much food for us to eat and looking around there were huge quantities going into "doggie bags"  bags for people to feed their pets later.  Tony ran a new year related quiz which got everyone's fuddled brains working before the big event.  We saw in new year in Greece and then two hours later saw in the new year in Britain, no complaints at all good food, good company, and a bit of a danceathon for those who need to show their eccentric side (you know who I mean Kev!).  We stayed overnight at Tony and Liz's and were still up for about 8am, Liz seemed somewhat worse for wear so after treating her with Sandra's patent hangover cure we snuck off home to leave them both to suffer in comparative silence.

Sandra Juicing oranges
Monday I made a start on chopping down some of the overgrown mulberry and almond trees in Mike and Trees garden.  I've taken all the new growth out of them but I think I'm going to chop the trunks lower to make it easier to keep them under control in future years.  The plus side of this is it leaves us with some more firewood for next winter when they have dried out somewhat as they don't burn very well when they are sappy.  Sandra and LIz spent the day picking some Oranges for Juicing and also made some delicious marmalade which we shall be making more off in the near future to take back to the UK as presents.
Stacks left though.

Thursday morning we went down to Lefkas to see the blessing ceremony for Epiphany, which is the big day over the Christmas holidays as far as the Greeks are concerned, most of the presents are handed out on this day to coincide with the gift given to the baby Jesus from the Kings.  It's quite a spectacle when after the water is blessed the priest throws a crucifix into the water and the brave men of the parish dive into the water to retrieve it, bearing in mind even here at the beginning of January the water is pretty cold, braver men than I methinks.

Some divers are keener than others as the cross goes in. 

Liz & Tony getting prepared for a good dunking session.
After this everyone dunks their own oranges into the blessed water to ensure a bountiful and productive year to come.  Liz dunked some oranges off the two trees we have here and Tony Dunked two thirds of his entire crop from the tree I planted in his garden two years ago (this amounted to two oranges!).  After this we went in Lefkas town with Tony and Liz for a coffee and some Lunch.  Thus ended a perfect week of calming down after the Yuletide  festivities.