Thursday, 29 December 2011

Out with the old...

Sandra's Dad and Sonia waiting for Xmas lunch.
 Well for us it's been a very hectic time, we don't seem to have been to visit as many people as we'd planned but hey, you can only do so much.

We had Christmas lunch with Sandra's dad and his friend Sonia at the Rose & Crown in Gilberdyke.  The food was excellent and while Geoff stayed quite traditional with duck we three deviated somewhat from the norm and had sea bass, langoustines and scallops for our main course.  Anyway it was all fantastic food and great company, it's certainly the best Christmas lunch we've ever had out, and by no means the most expensive.
Sunset outside the pub after xmas lunch 3:30 here - Shocking!

Adam, Libby and Jo show off their new bikes.
 I couldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day but as usual Geoff managed to have some supper later!

All the grand kids seemed to have got what they wanted from "santa" despite Chris and I have to do an eleventh hour mercy dash to town at nearly tea time

on Christmas eve when Adams xbox blow up and most of his presents needed it to be working, fortunately we managed to get a new one unfortunately it was another couple of hundred quid which could have stayed in Chris's wallet!
Finley & Mason walking the river bank.

On Tuesday we had another mission of mercy to perform as Gary and Claire came down with a mystery D&S bug (I suspect it was food related!) and we had Finley and Mason for the day.  We had a great day together out walking on the river bank but when you start to feel anno domini pulling at you something has to give and the next day Sandra was totally shattered so the promise to take them out to McDonald's was put on hold.

Anyway we are setting off back to Athens on the 21:45 train from York on Saturday so we should see the new year in at Manchester station all being well, but the good news is we will be back in Greece on New Years Day.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas is coming ... the Waddy's are getting fat(ter)

Maureen with the world famous venison pate.
It's been all go since we returned to England, first day back we were commandeered into baby sitting, making up for the times we are not here so it's not a problem.  Next day it was off to York to get all the Christmas presents for the kids big and small, Sandra's dad in tow wanting to get all his presents as well.  We came home with a car full of gear and a very thin wallet, bah humbug I say.  The saving grace is we came home with a a madras from Asda for tea so I got a spice fix and Sandra got her retail therapy.

Some of the tonnes of apples that needed moving.
 On Sunday we took four of the grand kids to the Christingle and carol service at the church.  They enjoyed it immensely especially the bun fight afterwards.  Monday and we went to visit Mark and Maureen at their temporary home up near Bronte country.  A very nice area but probably not entirely wheel chair friendly for Mark.  We had a great day with lunch out and a wonder tea provided by super chef Maureen including some marvellous venison pate on toast.  Thanks for a great day and a good laugh you two.
Sandra propping up the bar.

Ready for the big day in the local pub.
 Tuesday was time for clearing up all the dropped apples in our paddock while it wasn't raining.  Tonnes of the things and my gave up before I had hardly scratched the surface.  I decided therefore to get the garden tractor going and run the lawn mower over them several times to bruise, cut and generally battering them so the rot away quickly.

 Geoff, Sandra's dad, has given that many apples away that people are hiding from him now when they see him coming. 
Melissa, Sandra and Jess having some snuggle time.

We had a walk down the the pub in the village yesterday and had a couple of well deserved glasses of wine mind you a glass here is the same price as half a litre in Lefkas and you get over a litre in the new taverna in Lefkas square for less money!

Today it's baby sitting again for the day so I get to use proper broadband and Sandra get's cuddles everybody is happy!

Only a couple of days left now until Christmas so both Sandra and I would like to wish everybody who reads our blog a very merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous and happy new year.  Sorry to all those people we can't see while we are here but maybe we'll have more time when we return in the new year.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Back in the USSR err UK....

Sunday's Jungle crew minus me.
 Sunday saw the last race of the winter race calender.  All to play for as in the last race when we thought Jungle had achieved only gained second place, when the official results where published we found out that we had actually got first again after the handicap adjusted times had been worked out.  The end result of this meant that the final race still had the ability to award the seasons champions to either "Leona" or "Jungle", down to the wire with 3 wins each.

"Jungle" made an excellent start to the windward/leeward race around the cans at Lygia, and despite one or two errors from the crew (all of them including the skipper!) we had an excellent afternoons sailing in quite blowy conditions.  The end result being that we ended up second by nineteen seconds so had to let Neil and "Leona's" crew take the glory of overall seasons winners.  Never mind there's always next year.

Monday we went out for a meal with Jez, Debs, Tony and David to the newly opened taverna just off the main square to Lefkas town.  Excellent value for money as the nights food and drink only came to fifteen Euro a couple.  The food wasn't bad at all although in true Greek style wasn't the hottest meal you could ever eat but having said that it was tasty, wholesome and plentiful as was the wine flowing copiously throughout the meal.

Wednesday we set off on our journey back to the UK at four in the morning, we had planned to set off at five but as we were both up at two thirty we thought what's the point in hanging about.  We had a good journey to Athens stopping just before Patras at the same places the buses stop at for a toilet break and coffee.  Watched the sunrise over the gulf of Corinth, beautiful, and never had much traffic at all until the motorway section which goes through Athens itself, which of course you would expect.  The flight home was three quarters of an hour longer than it normally is as there were strong head wind almost the entire journey (according to the captain anyway) so we were a little later to Manchester airport than we had planned but fortunately we still were in plenty of time to catch the train we had booked.  Got a big shock when we got to York and found it was freezing though, to think we used to take this cold weather entirely in our strides.  Anyway called into the fish and chip shop on route to take some good old British staples home with us, and good they were too!  Mind you at £5 for fish and chips they wanted to be!  Our day travelling ended up being nineteen and a half hours from door to door.

Shock Horror - It's bloody cold here!
This morning, up at six o'clock, which was really eight o'clock according to the internal chronometer, went out for the first cigarette of the day as is my want, and found myself standing in an inch of snow, you just don't seem to be able to get away from it here nowadays.

We've had all day babysitting for number three son today, well not for him but his daughter Melissa.  We've had a great time all us children together!  Saw Jess and her mum off this morning as the snow was beginning to melt and have been slobbing all day since!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Conclusion of our olive harvest...

Deb & Jez's pruned tree.
Jez, Deb, Sandra & Tony at the press.
 On Friday the travelling band of would be olive harvesters made it to Jeremy and Debbie's house in Pondi near Vasiliki at the south of the island.  As with Tony's trees there was only one which had any real quantity of olives on it and it was precariously positioned on a very steep scree slope making it awkward to get the olives off

the tree.  We decided to use the net underneath a third of the tree at a time and use our plastic rakes attached to long poles to pull the olives off the tree and into the waiting net below.  Due to it's awkward location and the fact that it was not getting pruned, it turned out to be a bit of a tough task and both Tony and I shed blood for the cause, but hey, that's the British way isn't it.

Jez, Tony & I waiting for our turn.
We also had a very large tree which only had a few olives on to prune and try to convince it to fruit better in years to come.  Jez was feeling brave and pounced up the tree like an uncoiling spring, chainsaw in hand to do his lumberjack imitation.  Although, for Monty Python fans, I never saw any evidence of high heels, suspenders or a bra!  The tree loping really opened up the view down to Vasiliki bay as can be seen from the top picture.

Our 85 Kg of Olives seem poultry against other's tonnes.
We devised a better way to get rid of all the debris which you tend to collect with the olives this time.  We utilised my garden vacuum with a net over the end to stop the inlet sucking up olives and blew out the leaves and small twigs.  This was very successful in comparison to the hand sorting we had used at Tonys, but later at the olive press we found out that we need not have bothered at all as part of the process gets rid of all that stuff for you and some of the farmers olives were coming in full of leaves and even small branches.

Deb, Sandra and Jez emptying into the hopper.
 We ended up with 85 kilos of olives off two trees which wasn't a bad result at all.  With a little ringing about we found a press nearby which we were assured would be willing to takes our meagre (in comparison with the local farmers) offerings.  Thus the five of us set off for the press complete with our lovingly picked sacks of olives.

Filling up the oil.
Sandra with the finished product.
These meagre pickings became apparent when some of the farmers were weighing their bags for the days picking at 300 + kilos.  The Press was packed with loads of farmers and they were quite amused by the five of us taking in the whole experience several of them tried to explain the sequence of events to us and laughed at our miserly little bags waiting to go into the hopper but we were not to be deterred and I'm sure we won a respect from the locals that we foreigners were prepared to do the local thing and took such interest in it.  In the end the guy who owned the press normally takes payment in oil from the crop at a rate of about 12% to 13% of the total but Tony had asked if we could pay with having so little to press we would like all the oil.  When it was eventually squirted into out waiting cans he waived his fee, which was very nice of him.  We ended up with sixteen litres of our very own, from tree to can, virgin olive oil.  The next day we took the press owner a bottle of wine to show our appreciation.

Thanks to Deb and Jez for the fine meal Jez cooked for us on Saturday night it was a great night with great company.

After a couple of wet days breakfast coffee in the sunshine.
Sunday was race day again on "Jungle".  It was another close race and at this moment I don't know if we got the desired win to keep the season alive with one race to go.  We know that we beat "Leonne" which is the yacht currently leading the rankings but we had a serious racing yacht "Cocobill" which was about 10 minutes in front of us over the line and although his handicap means he gives us time it will be a close run thing.  Last race of the season coming up this Sunday so we really need to know whether it's still possible for "Jungle" to win, time will tell!

The early part of this week the weather has taken a turn for the worse and we've had some rain and hail and quite strong winds but by Wednesday afternoon things started to look better which was good because we were going out for a meal in Lefkas town with our great friend Kev & Linda.  The night seemed to fly by and we had a great time talking and after our meal we went back to marina to pick up our car as we set off for home the clock said 12:40 I thought it was about half ten!  Thanks for the great night out you guys must do it again soon after we get back from the UK.

Last picture shows Sandra having her breakfast coffee outside in the morning sunshine, I say morning but she didn't get up until 10:30, lazy bugger!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tic tic tic tic.... The olive harvest is on us again.

Well the weather here is still warm currently about seventeen degrees for most of the day and although cool after the sun goes down, it's certainly nothing to complain about.  I guess that it is not quite as good as this back in dear old "Blighty" in fact looking at the news from the UK it looks very blustery at the moment, although I did see this morning on TVAM that they were talking of draught conditions if they didn't get some rain soon in some areas.  This makes me smile, as we have had two small rain periods perhaps amounting to an inch of rain since we returned early September.  There is no talk here of water shortages, the farmers are still irrigating their crops and shock horror, people are still getting washed!  Well most of them anyway.  If a small island in what is currently being rated as a third world country can always have plenty of water, without having to desalinate it, then why can't Britain get it right.
The "Strippers" not quite "The full Monty!"

We had Sunday lunch out this week at the Katougi restaurant in Vafkeri.  Very nice food and great company too.  We had a really great afternoon with Peter and Alison and also with Ray and Linda who just happened to be there as well.  Only just made it back home in time to catch the Grand Prix which would have been a catastrophe!  

Pirouetting over the abyss.

We had arranged over the weekend with Tony, Jez and Debbie, that we would attempt to get Tony's Olives in on Wednesday.  Tony was aquiring some bags and a net and we would arrive tooled up to do the business.  Although there are at least four olive trees on Tony's land this year only one of them has any olives on it and it's laden.  It also needed to have a bit of a haircut so after a little perusing we decided that instead of knocking the olives down into a net we would prune it and take the fruiting branches onto the patio were they could be stripped, riddled and bagged ready for the press.

Mid day break
Lunchtime was home made soup and hunks of bread, delicious.  I think Sandra may have to open a Cafe, her food always seems to go down well with other people.  

Chopping the tree back has at least made it so you can see Lefkas and the marina from the lower balcony.  I did have to leave one long branch however as it was supporting Liz's  washing line and my name might not have been worth much if she couldn't get her washing out when she returns from her trip to the UK, I could blame Tony but she knows it wouldn't have been him that was so severe with the tree.  Guilty as charged!

The end result.
It was very labour intensive work but rewarding and today I'm feeling as stiff as a very stiff thing.  I think we ended up with about forty kilos of Olives off the one tree but as yet I'm not sure how much this equates to in term of the golden nectar that is extra virgin olive oil complete with blood sweat and tears!

Anyway, that's the Lefkas town end of things done next it's on to Pondi tomorrow to start on Deb and Jez's Olives hopefully they will be easier to get at but who cares have saw will travel!

Our neighbours and landlords Tree & Mike arrived home safely this week, although Tree is only home for a week before setting off back to the UK again for a bit of a knees up I think.  Anyway both say they are pleased to be back in the sunshine and we are all pleased to see them here.