Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Elf and Safety part 2. Don't trip over the ruins.


To say walking around Kos you’re likely to stumble across ruins is absolutely true. The remains of ancient monuments poke up out of the undergrowth on rough ground; Columns lay on their sides toppled through age, battle and earthquakes. Mosaics hide under sandy soil and hessian mats and figurines of ancient beauties and warriors lie as dismembered bodies over the ground. Fragments of vases and pots mingle with the soil and deeper in the earth no doubt coins and other everyday bits and bobs remain hidden.


Just take a stroll along the Beach at Kamari Bay and you’ll see ruins still holding back time as they have been exposed during excavation for a hotel. Agios Stefanos boasts the Roman temple clinging to the promontory near Club Med and on the road to Agios Theologos you’ll come across an amphitheatre hugging the mountain side.

The Castle still stands on a high outlook overlooking the Bay. These are the sites you can’t miss if you are observant but will not be sign posted or covered in railings with keep out signs and warnings against danger.


On your way to Kos high above Kardamena stands the Castle to the order of St John and dotted here and there across the landscape who knows what hidden gems lay waiting to be exposed or have been used as a vessel for watering the goats. No good for flip flops and you'll need a head for heights and big strides as the stone steps are high and rough.

Kos town and the medieval castle of Neratzia dominates the Port.Not a hand rail in sight, Dead ends, excuse the pun, with steep drops off in front and a go where you like attitude without a Job's Worth spouting Forbidden.


 



And walk round the town and you’ll come across a vast area of archeological ruins of buildings of the Hellenistic and Roman eras - the gymnasium, Odeon, Temple of Aphrodite Temple of Hercules, Roman baths and the Roman villas with mosaic fragments. Aqueduct connects the fortress with a small area, on which stands an ancient plane tree, planted according to legend, Hippocrates. Still no signs of health and safety. Dozens of cats and kittens hog the limelight, sunbathing on the flat stones and preening on the pillars. 


I love the laid back attitude, the informality, the recognition of their Cultural Heritage in an understated way and shall enjoy discovering Greek History wherever it pops out at me.









Friday, 11 November 2016

Elf and Safety!! part one.




If you ever get the chance to watch builders here in Kefalos, do so, it is very entertaining!!  No such thing as steel toecaps, hard hats, hi-viz jackets, eye protectors etc.!! I’ve been watching my house build through the eye of a lens and so far the only misdemeanor I’ve observed is the odd Toilet break and a pee over the side of the hedge.The new build regulations appear to have turned the setting out for the foundations into some kind of dot to dot experience meets French skipping with lines and strings everywhere and that’s only for the foundations so no way would you want to walk the site in the dark even if they had lights and tape round the site.



There was the time a couple of years ago when a house was being built where a friend lives.  A very large hole was dug, along came the cement lorry and the base was laid, the concrete dried and so the house took shape.  The first floor grew and then the steel rods for the top floor columns were shrouded in wooden shuttering, lined with blue polystyrene and filled with concrete.  Once the concrete had dried, a simple job of unbolting the shuttering, knocking off the wooden planks with a hammer and, hey presto, lots of blue clad concrete pillars, ‘simples’ as a certain meerkat would say.  The problem was getting to the bolts on the outside, scaffolding I hear you say, err, no!!  One guy with a wrench in his hand stood on the very edge, another stood behind him and held onto his belt and with one hand, the first guy then leant out as far as possible to reach the bolt and unscrewed it and  then hauled back in by his friend!! 
 
On the subject of scaffolding, as previously mentioned, what scaffolding?  If it has to be used it is usually made up of assorted poles, planks, crates, pallet boards, anything that can be used is.  If a job can be done without scaffolding even by sitting on another guy’s shoulders so much the better!!
 
The houses are built mainly of concrete, gaps between columns are filled with bricks and the whole lot is then sprayed with cement.  To create a block effect design on the cement is a simple job of scoring the cement with a very sharp blade across a sprit level.  Forget the scaffolding, all you need is one guy with the blade and one guy with the spirit level and something convenient to stand on.  The guy down the bottom stands on a crate or something similar, puts on a baseball cap, holds the spirit level up against the wall in the correct place, bends his head down, squeezes his eyes tight shut and, I should imagine, prays.  The guy up the top lays down on the roof, balcony whatever flat surface is above where he needs to be, wriggles as far over the edge as he needs to, leans down and scores the concrete with his sharp blade.  Hey presto, job done!!!
 
How true it is, but I have been told that to paint a high wall all you need is a long plank, a roller on the end of a long pole, two friends and two whatever to balance the plank on.  One friend either end of the plank jump up in unison while you stand in the middle, when they land on the ends of the plank you bounce upwards and therefore can reach higher up the wall.  To paint the top of the wall, no problem, just go up on the roof, lie down, lean over the edge and paint downwards!!
 
I shall continue to watch my house build closely as the new regulations seem to be making a mountain out of a mole hill and new EU rules mean a close inspection of proceedings from the man who knows and as GPS is now the eye of Big Brother there should be no chance of building in the wrong place. I still can’t imagine the focus will be on personal safety so it remains to be seen if scaffolding arrives on site..
 
 
 
 

 


Monday, 7 November 2016

Ah! peace and back to nature.

















On the last afternoon on the beach near Agios Stefanos before the flight home there was nobody around except Boo, Bev and me. The sea was as calm as a millpond and the soft contours of the Islands opposite rose up out of the sea. The little boat swayed gently in the swell and there was no sound other than the lapping of the water against its side. As the sun started to set the warmth dropped and we decided to go for a stroll.
A flock of seabirds flew in from across Kamari Bay and on mass dipped into the sea. Again and again they dove down and vanished into the water after a shoal of fish. I’d never seen anything like it before.


As we strolled along past the ruins towards Club Med a black sea urchin seemed to have lost its way lying on the shoreline while others clung to the rocks around the ruins.


A red damselfly basked on a piece of driftwood on the beach a strange place to see such a delicate creature.

We stepped out towards the rock pools and a small crab disappeared hurriedly into the sand, we almost missed it as its camouflage matched the sand so well. Hugging the rocky shoreline a long green and black striped fish swam in a small shoal. They had trumpet like faces, unlike eels. Earlier in the day the fishermen were benefitting from an abundance of sea bream as they swam close to the walls along the front in the bay.


We’d driven down to Paradise in the morning as the last of the sunbeds were removed until next summer and the Goats spread out across the road taking full advantage of an empty beach and no cars other than mine.


Back up to the apartment to pack and the Black and Grey Rooks helped themselves to Lucy’s dog food and water bowl. As the season was ending it was clear that the wildlife was ready to take back their home.




Sunday, 6 November 2016

My Big Fat Birthday Experience



When you’ve been invited to a kids Birthday party images of jelly and ice cream, cocktail sausages immediately spring to mind, with kids running around screaming and playing organised party games. And when I was a child in the 60’s the added bonus of sharing germs and catching Chicken Pox. Mumps or Measles. I’m sure parties are so much more sophisticated nowadays  but I didn’t know what to expect from a Greek one.

My Big Fat Birthday Experience for little Dimitris’ I’m 2 Birthday party was fantastic. Food, food, glorious food. Not a crisp or cheesy Wotsit in sight. Papou George barbecuing Souvlaki and sausage and other meats, Papou Dimitri playing mine host and ferrying freshly prepared salads, pittas, pies and all sorts of finger food to the table as it sagged under the weight of delicious Greek food. The Grandmothers mingling with the guests ensuring everyone one was happy and eating. The wine wasn’t flowing at 6 in the afternoon as everyone seemed to be enjoying Frappe but Boo my sister and I did get a carafe of wine.

The desserts were to die for and as Gianni’s is a Patissier what else would you expect and the Birthday cake was a work of art. I know I’m focusing heavily on the food but it was just so good and of course so……much. Families beautifully dressed arrived with their children and everyone sat around chatting. The kids ran around playing with each other and a few sat quietly playing on their Tablets. The atmosphere of happiness and contentment pervaded.

The Birthday song was sung in Greek and English. I don’t know why, but everyone knew the words and the blowing out of the candles met with almost as much excitement as the bashing of the Pinata. The Kids actually took their turns and went off happily clutching sweets .We left early as more people arrived, more food was served and more happy chatting could be heard. I only wish I liked Candyfloss as looking back into the room it was so sweet to see the kids queuing up for the freshly made pink confection.I’m looking forward to the next party.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

It's not the same........thank goodness



‘It’s not the same’

Having been a regular visitor to Kos for the past twenty two years you forget how different it is to life in the UK and it was brought into sharp focus last week when my sister came to Greece for the first time.

The close proximity of the airplane to the terminal begs the question….” Do we really need a coach to arrivals?” when all it does is circumnavigate the plane and travel about 100 yards to passport control when once through to baggage reclaim it’s anyone’s guess which of the three carousels your luggage is placed on.

Then out through to the car park to hunt the car in the dark with key strategically placed but no need for a ticket. The return Journey to an airport no bigger than ASDA is just as confusing with no real idea as to which queue to get into until you look around for anyone who might be on the same flight as you and once through passport control if you fancy a cigarette then you can pop back out.

Who’d imagine you can leave your car unlocked and not worry where you park it as long as it’s not on the seafront in Kos town. Ok my car looks a bit beaten up and neglected but it goes as long as you don’t mind the alarm pinging every time you go over a bump as the door has dropped and the close door warning bell keeps reminding you to slam it. A bit disconcerting to someone used to the AA being available for a breakdown and how would someone find you anyway as most of the roads don’t seem to have names.

The relaxed atmosphere in the Cafes and restaurants when your order takes so long to come you forget what you’ve ordered can be a bit unsettling and my dad would have left many a café disappointed. You just get used to the pace of life but if you’re used to rushing here and there and juggling job, family, and dog walking then it can take a while to get in the zone. And what of cigarette smoking don’t the Greeks know the EU banned it? The menu choice is a whole new topic but I love Greek food so not a problem for me.

What about the loos? State of the art, sensor operated taps stylish décor or basic with stiff doors and let’s hunt the light switch they still all have a bin for the paper.

Super beaches, dog walking allowed and no pooper scoopers and not a life guard in sight. So what do you do if you’re in trouble? Hope for someone walking along to rescue you.

Shops like Magic emporiums in the village with everything in there and in no particular order. I think the only time Kos was ‘the same’ was the coin for the trolley at Carrefour. And where else in the world does the Assistant Bank Manager stop mid flow to pay for her Meat delivery from the butcher before resuming your meeting to arrange internet banking as long as you have a mobile phone.

But the cake shops are to die for. No pun intended what about Health and Safety? That’s another Blog post entirely.

There are so many things we faced during the week where my mantra was ‘it’s not the same’ that I’d bore you if I kept writing. But feel free to add all the things you can think of that aren’t the same.

At least the next visit won’t be such a culture shock and I know reassuringly Kos and the Greeks won’t be any different. But one thing for sure by 28th October you could easily mistake my lovely sister for a Greek woman all wrapped up in warm clothes and not shorts and a T shirt.

 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Early Dawn


The cockerel heralds the dawn as the sun slowly rises up across the Bay and the occasional donkey braying cuts into the silence of the morning. A hot summer night now subsides into a cool early morning and sleep is almost possible.  Almost, but for the clattering of the Bin men making their early visit and the beeping sound as they reverse. The two stroke engines of people going to work have yet to start going up and down the hill. And the occasional sound of a dog barking resounds around the Valley.

Sitting out on the balcony it’s still slightly damp from dew but it’s so tranquil. The Magpies have started arguing, they sound like cackling women as they hop from branch to branch. The silent stick insect clings to the wall in the same spot as the night before and the ant’s scurry back and forth seemingly never sleeping. Tiny scorpions hide under rocks, something I must remember when treading barefoot.

As the sky brightens and the muted light sharpens I can see movement above me on the rocks. You can just about make out a family of Quail scrabbling about they are too small for grouse and you can just about see this secretive bird. I love this peaceful start to the day sitting and watching as the warm pinks and oranges spread out in front of me and become blue as far as the eye can see. Not a cloud in the Sky.

Ramblings from Rhodes: An Onomatopoeic Post

Ramblings from Rhodes: An Onomatopoeic Post

Friday, 26 August 2016

Snails and rain


The wind was howling and blowing a gale the sort you could hardly stand up in. Bathed in dust and grit and then drenched by pouring rain nothing unusual there but not expected on my Hols on Kos. Unpredictable weather I’m used to but not on the Island, although now having spent all months of the year at some time or other there I’m no longer surprised.

It was the last week of the season, one minute on the beach albeit alone and no sunbeds, the next enjoying the sunshine outside a Taverna or two. We’d packed for good day weather,  anticipated cool nights but hadn’t brought a raincoat and now I understood why that shop in Kos town had so many umbrellas.

Boo was with us and we didn’t want to be stuck indoors  before Easy jet flew us back to the UK on the last flight of the season, so we went to Mastichari and I’ve never seen the beach deserted before, it’s usually crowded. We walked along the shore and I got sandblasted with nowhere to go for assistance. So we decided to go up to the castle overlooking Kardamena. Not a good idea, the wind nearly blew us over the edge and then the rain came down and drenched us. Dripping wet, half blinded we drove down into Kardamena and fortunately were able to get food and drink whilst looking out on a murky, miserable seascape.


Just as we were regretting our choice of a late getaway the sun came out and the warmth of its rays evaporated the rain and it smelt fantastic. So enthused by the change we decided to drive up to Zia and what a sight. Just that little amount of rain, had rejuvenated that otherwise dry, barren landscape and as if by magic green shoots and leaves were sprouting. The empty landscape was now littered with locals collecting snails in carrier bags no doubt a rare delicacy about to be enjoyed Greek style.

In fact it reminded me of the last time I’d seen people out with plastic bags wandering the roadside only this time they were collecting Prickly Pears with the aid of a plastic cup. Who needs gardening gloves? I don’t know how they prepare these either. Something to look into for the future. Don’t think the technique will work on Blackberries.


ps.Many thanks to Roger Jinkinson a recipe for Snails.
Keep them out in the rain in a net bag. After two days they will be clean. Make an onion and tomato sauce, add the snails in their shells, serve with rice and green salad.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Toilet tour on Kos

Fascinated by Greek Mythology, Greek Culture and History mum still wants to know what the Toilets are like. She bases her standards on whether she should wait till she gets home. If she can do that at 86 then I’m not going to worry long term. Mum’s got some very basic concerns about me living on Kos and this is one of them.
Well mum rest assured they do have toilets. We know you have to use the bin as the pipes are too small regardless of where you go, but usually the standard of hygiene is acceptable if not exemplary. With this toilet training issue ingrained from childhood I must admit I do still study loos in the same way and any outing on the Island has been refined to my preferred toilets. Having been locked in one on a Geography School trip to Harlech and abandoned for some time my main criteria is the lock and this standard may or may not have been met and some may have no lock at all. The issue of power cuts, however has left me locked in one particular Bar in Kefalos a few times but that isn’t their fault. So keep a torch in your handbag.
Clear signage is not so important, as long as at least 2 loos exist and preferably a door between the loos and the main venue. One set of loos in Kefalos recently reminded me of the school toilets with lots of doors off a central washing area. Still not a problem
Public toilets are few and far between although the one in Kos Town is supervised so I won’t have to worry about having the same problem as my mum. She has a habit of popping into the men’s by mistake and many a time I’ve seen her escorted out by red faced men.
I’ve never encountered just a hole in the floor on Kos like I did years ago on the beach in Aegina and the flushing systems are akin to home if not superior with the touch less flush in some. Paper has never been unavailable, although I always take precautions by taking my own.
So although my toilet tour of Kos goes without a hitch, I’m still influenced by my mother.
They're ok.


 
 
 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Doctors...it pays to be In with the Family.













Entry requirements to Kos = 1 Passport


Entry to the Resort= an open mind and zest for Life


Entry to become a Patriot= Make friends, share in the life of all things Greek, become passionate about the people and place


Entry to a Family or two= Love, loyalty, laughter, sharing and caring and remaining friends for years and years.


If you’ve past the test and been adopted by a Local Family or more, your experience will be so much richer for it. They will love you, look after you, be prepared to give advice and guidance whether you want it or not and it may conflict between one person and another but you have had your card marked and that is nothing like having a residents visa. When you’ve been spat on three times you know you’re in.


Boo’s first visit to Kefalos was met with spitting, eager to meet my niece γιαγιά, Frosini, Vangelia and Maria came forward with open arms and spat on her more of a Ftou, ftou, ftou. Don’t know what Boo needed protecting from.Such an honour even if Boo needed an explanation afterwards. She’s been going ever since and regards it as home. Hospitality has extended to all my friends and family to date and when you see people warmly embraced time after time you realise how different life is here. Even the language is no barrier.


Some years ago I set up a business Venture called Greek in a Week and roped my Greek Family into teaching Greek language and Cookery to guests. Isabelle, Amy and Dot saw my advert in the Times Educational Supplement and came out for the first holiday. They loved it, Cooked and ate, chatted and took part in the Family experience. Dot over dosed on water melon, although it wasn’t her I had to take to the Doctors. Isabelle got sore throat problems so we went up to the Village Doctor and sat waiting our turn. Not entirely sure whose turn it was as it was all Greek to us but people were keeping a mental note of who arrived when and so on. Yiayia was there chatting to her friends as we waited and waited. It’s always slow. The closer we got to our turn, the closer we got to the Doctors door. A bit like musical chairs and you had to keep your wits about you. Anyway when it came to us one of the Ladies disagreed and as we sat down not willing to offend anyone although worried because we were so close to lunchtime and that would be it for another day, Yiayia stood up and came to our rescue. After a few loud choice words and what appeared to be an argument we were ushered in and all was calm. You see it’s always who you know not what you know. I don’t know what Yiayia said but it worked and nobody is going to disagree with a Greek Matriarch.






Monday, 15 August 2016

Swimming pools

Hermes

Sea or Pool used to be the question although the time of year did have some influence, but it’s the sea for me any day. Either has provided me with a great source of entertainment. My first years in Kefalos took me to the Hermes and they had very nice pool. Positioned half way up the hill, well placed for full sun or catching the breeze and a little shade. I always went in May so the sea option was a bit daring. I’d been going for quite some years before my friends decided to see what it was all about. Jen covered from head to toe in clothes sat in the shade and Brian messed around in the pool. I people watched.
This glamorous, young, self- assured woman lay close and opted for topless bathing, turning regularly for an even sun tan. Her man had gone off somewhere when a sudden gust of wind blew up and whipped her bikini top into the pool. Brian a former life guard dove into action retrieving her top and as he swam towards her side of the pool was rewarded with a smile and size 40DD bending over him. Always prone to exaggeration ,we just couldn’t get him to the Sea after that though.

Zeus
A few years later at the Zeus Hotel, Annette, Eric and I were enjoying the rays with our backs to the hotel when a photographer arrived. He was taking shots for Holiday Brochures and would we mind being in them. We were asked to pose and look natural at the same time. How on earth do you do that? Anyway we tried I kept my sunglasses on so no one would know it was me, Ron and Eric carried on as usual and Annette proved to be a better poser than the rest of us. Children splashed about in the foreground and various shots were taken, again and again. Regrettably the eagerly awaited brochure shot finished with Eric and Annette had been cut off, all that effort for nothing.


So now I choose the Sea and if I happen to be in anyone’s Holiday shots they won’t know it’s me.

Monday, 8 August 2016

How to buy a car.......



Stay calm and think of Kefalos
Buying a car in Greece can be just as formal an affair as anywhere when it comes to paperwork. We’d been hiring cars for years and going back to teaching meant school holidays and high prices. Even Mates rates gave little respite and after years and years of hiring, our Greek friends were getting embarrassed about having to charge us especially as we were Family. So then Gianni’s persuaded us to buy and Stephanos knew someone who knew someone who wanted to sell his car.

So we agreed to purchase the Ford Focus and shook hands on the price and agreed to go ahead. We rendezvoused informally at a coffee shop, had the usual discussion about how old we were. Where we came from, how many children, do we work, how much money we earn, do we have our own house etc. You know the sort of chat you have in Greece during the first five minutes, followed by our Greek car owner giving us his life history and future plans and so we agreed to meet at the Car Tax Office.

Second day rendezvous at the office meant we required another office and another form. So third day rendezvous turned out to be the Police Station in Kos Town (go to Antimachea it’s far easier). We were told to wait in a queue right next to the open / grilled jail. Unhappy prisoners talking to us through the bars all hot and bothered like us. So we waited and waited, getting close to lunchtime put us in a bit of a panic as that usually meant come back tomorrow. Anyway time passed and we reached the front of the queue. “Why are you here? You don’t need to come here when you’ve already got a tax number and residents permit. Doesn’t the man in the Car tax office know what he’s doing? Too late it’s lunchtime.

Fourth Day rendezvous back at the car tax office. Everything is going ok until Mr Car Tax man says to our seller Michalis you need form blah blah blah  “It’s at home he says”. With our will to live rapidly diminishing, Mr Car Tax man says “No worries just give it to me tonight, your sisters cooking and we’ve got Mousaka”.

So formalities meet Greek family members and suddenly Michalis is Car Tax man’s brother in law and all is well. What can you do?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Mosquitos no way.





The only thing that puts me off the warm summer nights are mosquitos. I like to sleep with the windows open and so the dilemma begins . Do I risk being bitten or do I stay cool?  Do I tuck myself under the sheets with PJ's covering all exposed areas and at the same time hug a previously frozen bottle of water or do I try something else. So over the years I've tried a number of techniques.


Plug ins seem to work as long as you're immediately in the flight path. Sprays and slow burn coil candles are designed to stop you breathing and the coil has been known to explode producing thick, smelly black smoke. Battery operated devices designed to emit the signal of either male or female mosquito don't seem to function and Citronella candles blow out .


So I've resorted to tenting with a lesser or greater degree of success. I use to affix Netting to the window openings but the tape kept falling off. I've sourced the ideal Mosquito net on the Net and found self -supporting tents or Pods.


They do the trick although they have the habit of falling down in the night and it does take two to erect them one struggling to hold one set of bendy wires up while the other tries to match the other uprights. They do inhibit reading in bed as any weight pushed against any side causes the thing to collapse so no chance of any other activities. Safe from Mosquitos as long as you don't move.


Absolutely no good after a night of drinking as the inside/outside zip takes delicate movement and drunken forgetfulness causes a major catastrophe and many a night my niece and I have seen a Tent covered figure ricocheting off the wardrobe on its way to the loo. By the morning said figure has needed to be unravelled from the netting and supports with bites to exposed parts.


 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Sunrise Sunset


The colour of the sky here at sunrise and sunset reveals all the colours of the rainbow gently melding into Blue or Black. The night sky is so black, illuminated only by the stars and moon, but last night the moon forgot to show, an eerie experience looking out across the black sea of Kamari Bay. The full moon of last week was such a contrast with it’s friendly face clearly visible and so large.
 
There are so many places to see the sunrise and sunset to best effect, be it from up in Zia, at Agios Theologos also known as sunset wave or anywhere you're prepared to stop and stand and stare. Always take your camera. Awesome.


 

 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Priest with a paintbrush













When you're at home the Clergy don't seem to be so noticeable somehow, but on Kos they are part of every day life be it sitting in a Taverna having a coffee playing Tavla , putting their feet up in the Bank flipping their komboloi, Strutting down the beach for a swim or dancing at a Festival. It's normal and the full Black Clothing stands out far more than a Dog Collar.

What I didn't expect to see as my friend Gaynor and I strolled up towards the water mill in Zia was an Illustrious Priest donned in black with Adidas trainers, jeans, cigarette in one hand and paint brush in the other white washing the walls of the Church. You'd think he'd have changed his clothes first. Don't you just love Greece?

 



I hope he didn't paint it all himself.





Thursday, 28 July 2016

Jacket required, no cash



Although I’m a morning person sometimes I have to go to Kos for the evening and if it’s August then the earlier the better. The heat of the day has started to dissipate and the tourists have returned from the beach and are either taking a shower or a nap before the night’s entertainment. Young families are taking advantage of quiet Tavernas before it gets too busy and Shop Keepers are opening up for the evening if they’ve managed to get away for a siesta.

I always park on the waste ground near The Odeon and cross over and walk up the alleyway in-between the ruins and come out at the top end of the Old Town Lanes. It’s easier going in but coming back can be a bit hairy as the wide, rough cobbled and white concrete pavement is badly lit and overgrown in places and cats dart back and forth as some of the locals feed them.

My husband true to his Star sign Gemini takes the same route, visits the same people and aims to buy the things he likes most on his way down to the Seafront. This isn’t my style but does have its advantages sometimes.

So year in year out we visit Apostolis our friend in the leather shop. He’s always pleased to see us. We’re welcomed in with an Ouzo or two and sit while he discusses the world at large. As a keen Thespian he holds court, and we his audience are treated to his views on politics, economy, education, Climate Change and his family. All he knows of us is, we’re Ron and Sally, we stay in Kefalos, we come from England, we visit him every year and Ron buys suede waistcoats. This particular year Ron bought a suede jacket, unfortunately he’d left his wallet back in the village. So we couldn’t buy it and asked him to keep it for us for the following week.

 

But Apostolis wrapped it up and gave it to us saying “take it and bring the money next week, I know who you are and trust you”. Would this happen in the UK? I very much doubt it. So we went back the next day not the following week which was our compromise. We still visit for Kos News but after 23 years we no longer buy Waistcoats.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Search for a Good Greek......


Who would have thought the search for Boo would have involved the search for a Good Greek House or was it meant to be a Good Greek Man. Any way it’s been fun along the way.

Everyone in the Village has a piece of land or knows someone with a piece of land and over the years I’ve looked at many. It’s only when you start looking that your heart starts ruling your head and then that can get very expensive. With issues such as access, water supply, electricity, permissions for this and that, Joint land ownership and so it goes on. If that doesn’t faze you, what with all the advice you’ve received from just about everyone including my mums Bank Manager then you’re on the road.

Then it’s time to reign yourself in and start thinking what do you actually want. How far from the village in case you need help in the middle of the night do you want to be? Will the cats be safe when it’s open season for the hunters? How will you manage when you’re too old to get on your Quad Bike to nip to the shops. And so sensible head takes over and boy does it give you sleepless nights.

If you still get through all that anxiety and your passion is still intact then the hurdles and hoops begin. …….. and the rest of that Epic story will have to go in a book . But in the meantime the search for Boo has encountered many a good Greek Man on our shopping list. The Notary, The Accountant, the helpful man in the Tax Office, That lovely Police man in Antimachea and so it goes on and if you see me walking around with my niece then you just never know what we’re looking for.

Beware Polish Builders Drinking Vodka.


We’ve shared our Accommodation of choice over the years with holidaymakers, Mad Schizophrenic Austrians, Island Doctors, Personal Friends and family and it’s always been entertaining one way or another.

One year however remains forever in my mind. The year they started work on The Blue Lagoon. The workers came from far and wide and were accommodated around the village and local area. We shared with a group of Polish Builders. Early starts, early nights so no problem there as we were late starts and late nights like passing ships.

Cold shower problems as the men used up all the solar heated water were no problem as we got quite inventive with naked washes on the balcony after they’d gone using heated water and a watering can or bucket and I apologise now for any tourists looking out across Kamari Bay from the Castle with Binoculars. It must have been a horrible sight.

Sewage problems were more of a problem as the Cesspit system could not cater for so many doing what comes naturally but fortunately did get sorted.

Boozing and Barbecuing, Singing and Playing Music were a small price to pay for sharing with some very entertaining people.

I think they felt sorry for us really and our last night coincided with one of the guys celebrating his Stag do and as we’d got a bit of Vodka left over we decided to donate it to the party. And so we joined the early Vodka Shot Party. “I’ll just have   Vodka and Orange” I vaguely remember saying.

How many I consumed I’ve no idea. They don’t mix it either. Vodka, Juice, Vodka Juice. Twoje zdrowie Vodka, Juice, Vodka Juice. Twoje zdrowie and so it went on. By 7.pm we tore ourselves away for dinner promising to return. Staggered into the restaurant absolutely rat arsed......... Revived we rushed back as promised about 2 hours later and all was quiet. Despite copious amounts of Vodka and Beer they’d all turned in for the night . Early as usual, and so did we. Beware Polish Builders Drinking Vodka.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

βιβλιοπωλείο






I’d had my Greek lessons, been practicing for months and thought I’d go beyond ‘Good morning’, ‘how are you?’ fine etc. and try something real in the Bookshop in Kefalos. Browsing the shelves for Greek Grammar books and trying to look cool and Knowledgeable I ventured a question. ‘Μιλάς λίγο ελληνικά;’ I said smiling. Smiling back at me the man said ‘Actually I speak a lot of Greek and a little English’. How embarrassing was that?
Should have bought this and now have in my collection
So I decided the best thing I could do was come away with a Children’s Greek book as that was obviously my level.
 
This was what I went for and eventually bought when I'd got over my embarrassment.


Not to be put off some years later I bought a card for my niece for her wedding, it did cross my mind briefly why there was a baby on it.  I went to Kapsoulis for a drink and asked Manolis to translate it for me. He looked at it and said 'congratulations on your marriage' then paused, looked at me and followed it up with 'and on the baptism of your baby'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My reaction was 'You are joking!!!!!!!!' and he said no, he hadn't actually seen one but obviously if they do cards saying both, they must have both at the same time.!!
I promptly went straight back and asked if I could change it, the guy  was extremely apologetic and said he hadn't read it properly, immediately changed the card for one just saying'marriage'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. So I smiled and he smiled back and I think we might just be even.


So if you want to practice your Greek by all means go into the Bookshop he really is helpful but if you're a bit shy then use the following link. I now have quite a number of books from both places.
https://bibliagora.co.uk/




Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ok, Garden Centres.













Ok, Garden Centres.


 
As soon as the sun comes out in the UK us Brits are visiting the Garden Centres. Buying plants way too soon to bed out and spending an absolute fortune on them. And I’m not the first one to fall for ‘Buy one get one Free’. And If I’m not sucked into buying more plants than I really want ,I’m encouraged to buy china and glass, books or paintings, Furniture , smelly candles and any number of things I just don’t need. I might have a cup of coffee and a fruit scone though.


 


So imagine how refreshing it is to just buy plants and it’s not like you have to worry too much about the season, or the location, or soil type as what you see is what you get. There are only a few Garden Centres on the Island that I know of, and you can still get seeds, bulbs, tools, compost and pots of every shape and size etc. and maybe a BBQ of the outside wood burning variety not the metal on wheels type.


 


 


You don’t get the hard sell as you browse along the lines of pots, nobody will bother you unless you actually request some help. Some of the plants look a bit tired but you get that anywhere, most of them are in very good health and, although I have never had to do it, I am sure if you bartered the price you could possibly get it cheaper and hope to nurse it back to health. This isn't really necessary as the prices are so cheap it is unbelievable! If you have been to a garden Centre in the UK you will know exactly what I mean when you see the prices as you can pick up a huge bush or well established rose for about €5/€10 which would cost you well over £20 in England.


 
















The Big Centre also has what looks like a very large white tent at the back, this is basically a greenhouse and houses all the more tender plants, vegetables, annuals, house plants and this is where you will find the bougainvillea. Shrubs and fruit bushes, trees and roses. I was under the false impression that I wouldn’t be able to get soft fruits such as Blackberries or Raspberries but was wrong.
 







Another small garden Centre only opened this year. It is on the main road at the bottom of the hill opposite Jimmy's Supermarket, about two doors along from the car hire place. Really nice young man works in there. He has very good English and has been to agricultural college so knows what he’s  talking about. There is a small area at the front which has house plants, bedding plants etc. then inside the shop there are seeds, bulbs, fertilizers etc., out the back is trees, bushes, roses, all the bigger plants, again in rows on black weed suppressant material with the pipes for watering. When I went there he hadn't been open very long and was still stocking up so there wasn't a huge choice but he probably has a lot more in now. Whether it was because he was only just starting, I picked up about 10 plants and he threw in a couple of pansies for free, he also found me a box and carried it out to the car for me. I came away with about 10 plants, including the 2 pansies and a huge rose and it cost me something like about €20.

My friend was having a problem with her hydrangea with rust spots and a white powdery substance on the leaves and the rose started with the same thing so her husband  took a piece of each and went down to see him. He sent him back with a small bottle of liquid to be mixed with water and sprayed on every 3 days, within a month both plants had cleared and are now doing really well. It is so convenient having a Garden Centre so close to home though. I might not get a scone and coffee or Christmas Bauble or Easter Bunny  but I’m close enough to get a Frappe or Beer in a bar should I need it.

 

https://static.xx.fbcdn.net/rsrc.php/v2/y4/r/-PAXP-deijE.gif















Friday, 8 July 2016

Metaxa......'my Precious'.







It has to be 5 Star Metaxa to please the palette nothing else will do.’ It’s the sweetest distillation Greece has come up with’ says my husband, although I’m an Ouzo fan really. Anyway, wherever you go it’s behind the bar and we take great delight in buying it from Konstantinos after lunch when we pretend we’re just going in to take advantage of the Air Conditioning. We even buy it at the airport as if we don’t have enough bottles already.

What you don’t expect is to use it as a weapon of choice should it be required. So one night after an evening out, dinner and a few glasses of the stuff and a few more for safe measure we returned to our apartment. In the early hours of the morning before dawn the noise started. Shouting, arguing, breaking glass, raised voices and as I came too it dawned on me that there was only one person in the next apartment. I got up and followed the sound from front to back and with balconies both end started to get a bit anxious. The noise got worse and worse and the smashing of bottles increased. It was like listening to Gollum and Sméagol arguing over Bilbo Baggins.

In a state of high anxiety I finally managed to wake my other half and get him out of bed. It was the middle of the night and we were trapped in our room by some raving lunatic on the stairwell. The idea of an enraged, schizophrenic talking to himself in a number of voices scared the living daylights out of us. So with chance of the Cavalry not arriving till morning we stood guard at either end of the room with the only weapon to hand we could think of. A Metaxa bottle each.

By the time help arrived and the Man of many personalities was carted off we were exhausted and had no choice but to take a small glass of Metaxa to help us sleep.