Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap day ...

Looks rather grim out of the window ...

Weird dreams overnight, not always the best way to start the day either.

Lots of friends are on diets it seems at the moment. Trying to loose their winter bellies. I actually am on a soup based regime at the moment. I think I make a pretty good Red Pepper and Tomato soup, However yesterday was may other half's turn,and her invention, was a Broccoli and Potato.
It was good, but I think it needed something else perhaps some feta - In the absence of some Stilton ...

Perhaps today we will go for it - Onion soup - A Greek version, not a French one ...

We are still keeping one eye on the weather, we had snow showers here yesterday afternoon, which made my afternoon stroll - the trip up to the supermarket interesting. Our friends over on Skopelos - skopelosnews have posted some photos this morning, see them here

I think it looks like Alonnisos has had a dusting with Icing sugar - What do you think ?

Time to get on with the fun jobs, cleaning out the 'Mighty Woodburner' and preparing it for its next performance. Enjoy your Leap day (Its the 29th today) wherever you are ...

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Feathered companions ...

We seem to have someone roosting overnight on the balcony ...

In the morning the tell tale marks are there on the floor, and it appears our feathered friend has a companion. No signs of any nesting yet though in the rather bare bougainvillea.

Last night the rain finally stopped around 2am and the winds continued to whistle down the side of the house overnight and all morning. I had the 'mighty woodburner' going for around 11 hours yesterday. Feeding it logs every hour, little and often.

On my way to the bin, this morning - I noticed a companion skipping up the street in front of me. A pied wagtail, stepping out with me. It has a hoppy/skippy walk and was chattering away. I watched him for a while, and he seemed to enjoy my company.

I threw the bag into the bin, and out came the neighbourhood 'Ginger Tom' at speed - We both had rather a shock - However he had it coming ...

Later a cup of tea shared with a friend, and a chat about a design for my open fire. A 'swans nest' grate to improve the air circulation around the fire. If that does not work, or is not cost effective, then its time for 'Mighty woodburner no 2' ...

Its sunny outside (After the monsoon) but the outlook is still deceiving - Its really quite cold, with a windchill. I have fired up the woodburner, Its up to temperature (Around woodmark 5) and we are now nice and warm here in the house.

That recent wood delivery, has turned out to be a wise investment after all ...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Clean Monday ...

Today is the day to clean out your cupboards, for the serious business of the fasting for lent.


The shops are closed today, and the special bread available is the flat bread - Laganes - which is baked without yeast - its a leven bread.

Nikos and his son show their fresh Laganes, at the Tries Hieraches  Bakery ...

The other thing to do, is fly a kite - best place for that as a group is Koukounaries with  friends and a BBQ on the beach.


Sadly however the weather here today is really foul - Torrential rain, so Clean Monday is a washout.  ...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sadly no Carnival parade today ...

The council funds would not stretch to it, as the island austerity bites ...

Plenty of children dressed up and making best efforts though, even one or two adults in fancy dress. A few firecrackers and some guys whizzing around on one of the old three wheelers, playing music and having a good time ...


We enjoyed a leisurely lunch with a good friend, visiting the island. I thoroughly enjoyed these Sardilla which were grilled, served in Olive oil and lemon, on a bed of horta ...

Signs of spring ...

Are all around us, its easy to tread on some of them, without even noticing ...









Distant snow on Evia ...

This morning has dawned cool and grey. Its rather windy too. Here is a view from saturdays travels with my camera ...

The snowclad mountains over on Evia ...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Up with the lark ...

Well the church bells actually ...

The priest was being most insistent this morning, I saw him at 7am tugging the ropes with the 'Come to church" bellscript. I passed by with just a few startled cats for company, en route with the bottles to Taxiacharis.

Blue skies and a warm feel to the air, by the time I arrived at the car, I had warmed up quite a bit too.

There is almond blossom and cherry blossom everywhere. Wisteria has budded and will bloom soon. Wild flowers popping out of pavement cracks, crevices and tired looking pots, small blue flowers on the foreshore, the island is bursting with the first signs of spring.



Up at Taxiacharis, water was gushing from the spring. The sun had risen, around 1/3rd of the way along Skopelos. It was burning my back as i filled the bottles, and burning my eyes too as I returned down the hill.

Back at sea level the heart was thumping as i returned the bottles home - must be something to do with the quick changes in altitude and exercise. A greeting from the dustmen as they scattered the cats, going about their duties.

Strolling back along the paralia one of the bus drivers, exchanged a greeting, as did the lady at the Goldfish bar. Locals along the harbour nodded or called out a cherry 'Kale Mera'

Church square is filled with the aroma of fresh bread. Its intoxicating and makes you hungry, but its still in the oven, not on the shelves at that time. Just as well, I had no cash on me.

Maroula is outside, she is breaking up the fruit boxes for kindling under her feet. The waft of olive wood smoke, from her woodburner fills the street with its perfume, even at this early hour.

So after a coffee, next is to raise Junior (Who does not like to surface too soon) as we have a birthday party to attend - and a brisk walk beforehand.

That should take us up to at least a late lunch - hopefully somewhere sunny and warm ...

Friday, 24 February 2012

Skiathos - Sky at Night ...

Nikos our Island astronomer, has a website ...

So if you want a view of the Skiathos 'Sky at Night' from Xanemos, then click here ...

Louis de Bernieres on Zorba the Greek ...

Just in from a scorching stroll on the Paralia ...

Its been an interesting morning, down on the Paralia, meeting friends off the Express Santorini. Took a friend of this blog, visiting for the weekend, to Marthas House, where I was very politely ticked off, by my friend Martha for not visiting during the winter.

Sitting in their garden enjoying a coffee, watching the Lemons and Oranges ripening in the sun. A slice of spanakopita, the time drifted and as a result none of my jobs were completed. All due to famous Greek Hospitality. I hope our good friend will enjoy the company and hospitality, of Martha and Vasilis over the next few days ...

It was a pleasure to read something positive about Greece in the press today. The Telegraph reports Louis de Bernieres view on Zorba the Greek, and how the film and the music influenced him. The report can be found here.


There is no truth in the rumour that that is me on the left ...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Whats that creaking noise ...

There is nothing like seeing sunshine when you open the curtains, Throw back the shutters and sunlight fills the room ...

However its nothing like that here either again today.

Its another grey cool day, a hint of rain in the air and its not good for anyone with a stiff back. The wood delivery, and its shipment into the house, has left me with a creaking back, and the hint of a cold. All that energy spent, building up a sweat that comes back to bite a day or so later.

I have enjoyed using the fire all afternoon - the logs are just the perfect size, and the house is a nice warm feel. However lugging logs around is not fun at the moment. I have postponed the water run today too ...

I have had a few calls from friends asking about 'the situation', are they safe here on holiday etc ...

The disturbances and protests have been in the major cities. They are just in a few areas, and yesterdays demonstration in Athens was a damp squib. It rained and they dispersed early. Some of the news coming out of the UK is extreme - William Hague take note

Yes there are strikes - today its the doctors and ambulances, and ongoing lawyers - You can keep up with the strike details - See http://livingingreece.gr/strikes/

The next thing on the radar is the carnival which weather permitting, should be this weekend. Then clean monday and the start of the traditional fasting period for Lent ... 

... But first - I have spotted a lonely orange tree, and thoughts are returning to Marmalade.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I finally caught up with Yorgos ...


So at 11.30 he arrrived with his ancient mazda three wheeler, I am now the owner of around a ton of firewood. This time all neatly cut to size, for the mighty woodburner.
Now this has all been sorted and stacked, I have been granted a beer and thoughts are turning to Pancakes - after all it is Shrove Tuesday for some of us  ...
Now this is the recipe I use most of the time, and tonight the lemons will be those that I scrumped yesterday, from my favourite tree ...


Pankcake Batter Recipe
by Delia Smith


Ingredients
For the pancake mixture
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter
To serve
caster sugar
lemon juice
lemon wedges



Preparation method
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs - any sort of whisk or even a fork will do - incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don't worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you're using the correct amount of batter. I find 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. It's also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it's tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife - the other side will need a few seconds only - then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.
To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra sections of lemon.


By Delia Smith - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/basicpancakeswithsuga_66226

Monday, 20 February 2012

Evacuation ...

Todays Daily mail headline makes interesting reading ...

Evacuation warning to Britons

Perhaps they will send an aircraft, however only on a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday as the Air Traffic Controller is busy other days at this time of the year. Hope they do not send a 767 or there will be a new attraction on Xanemos beach this year for all the family to enjoy.

Somehow, I just cannot see the Royal Navy sailing round the islands picking us all up. After all last i heard, they had scrapped most of the fleet. Maybe they will charter the Express Santorini to do it, like its voyage to Libya this time last year ...

If the 'Grey funnel line' do turn up, Bobs bar and the King and Queen are open, Its not quite bar street in Gibraltar, but there is something for everyone. I am sure they will have a great time. After all the RN used to send a boat here every year until the war (1939-45) intervened.

My elderly neighbours are quite excited by the prospect. They have asked me to arrange for Prince William in a Sea King, however i have warned them to secure their ancient shutters because of the downdraught, and that the satellite dish may get in the way of the winchman ...

So this made me think - where are they going to put us. Stumbling ashore or at some far flung airport, at some unearthly hour, wrapped in blankets, being forced to tell the press how pleased we are to be back.

Yesterday they headlined Send them to Hull

Hull ??? or Skiathos ...

I think i will stay embedded behind the lines thank you ...

However if things do turn nasty,  no doubt the old rusty cannons, on the bourtzi could be turned seaward.

Note to Admiralty - the locals do have one tinfish (Torpedo) mounted on the harbour, that could be pressed into use (If anyone can afford the fuel) ...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Back on the rock ...

We are blessed at last with some spring sunshine ...

I spent the weekend on the paralia enjoying the sun. Skipping stones on the water with Junior, and some other children from the small beach by the Bourtzi. It was nice chatting with the other parents, as we gathered by the small play area by the fishing harbour. So many children now drawn out (or allowed) from their houses with their parents, now there was a first glow of spring warmth after a long cold winter.

The view across the sea is stunning, the snow glinting off the mountains over on Evia. The sea a glistening turquoise blue. The low sun catching many unaware, and lobster red faces appearing as we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine - aided by a glass of tsipouro, and a lovely fish meze.

Lots of fun on the paralia, with children in fancy dress costumes, ninjas, princesses, pirates all around. As we enjoyed lunch, along came a tractor, towing a trailer blaring music. The tractor decorated with a clowns face at the front. Four adults in wigs, costumes and one carrying an incense burner - trailing scented smoke as they blessed us all in the tavernas. It was without doubt one of the funniest things i have seen. Apparently this is the 'Trata' or the captains wife celebration representing Dionysis.

On the way back surrounded by children, they stopped outside Kabourelias where we were - 'enjoying lunch' and were offered free tsipouro - only for them to send it back (Crazy enough - or had enough already) and beer were offered instead and enjoyed.


Photo by kind permission of Victoria at Skiathos Books




All part of the springtime fun, here on a small rock in the aegean ...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Where is Skiathian ?

I have been feeling romantic - and addressing a few lifechanges.
In addition burning up the air miles, and increasing my carbon footprint.

I seem to have woken up from this journey - with a ball and chain, a band of gold, and a lovely wife ...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Wet Wet Wet ...

Not the pop group, the island ...

Seems like its either been raining or snowing for weeks, but there appears to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We may see the sun this week after all and rising temperatures.

One good thing with all the rain, is that it flushes the water table as well as making the streets nice and clean.

Now all we need is for our neighbours to put their rubbish bags, in the street bin - rather than providing a smorgasbord for the local wild cats, which seems to be the preferred option.

Some things are easier solved than others ...

Friday, 10 February 2012

A Greek version of an american sitcom ...

Its a little different here, no subtitles required ...


Now tell me you did not smile ...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Weather news

As the snow keeps falling ...

Winter is extending its chilly fingers further round the islands. Our friends at Skopelos news have posted an update of a snow capped Alonnisos here

Skiathos is suffering intermittent power cuts, and the Dog shelter has reported the heaviest snowfall of the year, along with concerns, that their dedicated team of volunteers, will be able to attend in the morning ...

Special offer ...

Friend comes up to me and asks if i want to buy some Olive Oil ...

Why? I say, Carrefour is just up the road, with a smile
'Its special and I only have 25 cans of 25litres' you are my friend etc ...
He went on to give the location, acidity, and that 'as a friend i could have it for €70' = €2.80 a litre
That's roughly the same price as Carrefour own brand ...
The same size can has cost me more here, on the island off 'so called friends' in the past

So i said i would think about it - so, he held my arm, and he offered it to me as a pay in instalments option. He whispered this to me, despite no-one being within 50 metres of us

I have just been offered a line in credit, by a Greek friend ...

So is he in dire need of cash, or genuinely trying to do me a favour?
Its got me thinking, I can tell you ...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cut off ...

Not the electricity - but transport ...

Following yesterdays strikes, now the ferries are stuck in port due to bad weather. No crossings or supplies today from the mainland.

Lets look on the bright side - more snow expected tomorrow ...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

'All The Little Graces' ...

Our friend and reader of this blog, Eleanore has her new novel now available on Amazon ...

'All The Little Graces' is a new novel set in the early 1990's that points to the issues of the strays of Greece's streets ... as well as to the beauty of the human-animal connection.The story is set on a fictitious Greek island, but lovers of Skiathos will surely recognize it lurking in the story's nooks and crannies ...                                                                       A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of this e-book (found at ALL major ebook outlets for all e-readers) will go to benefit the Skiathos Dog Shelter ...

Big storm ...

Its arrived as promised ...

High winds and a fierce storm, have been making for an interesting time. The island has been reverberating to large claps of thunder, accompanied by lightning, and heavy rain. Power dipping in and out too ...

Well it was to be expected, after a rare warm weekend ...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Express Santorini ...

Is back on our island route ...

There she was this afternoon, with a blast of the horn as she entered the harbour. Our old friend back to replace the Express Skiathos, as she has her annual refit, and coat of paint at Piraeus ...


Classic lines and a little piece of history, the last of the old cross channel train ferries with its cavernous car deck, that used to hold train carriages and goods wagons ...

Friday, 3 February 2012

Still raining ...

Its 6.20am and its still raining ...

First coffee of the day, is getting cold in the cup. there is still some resemblance of heat from the ash in the woodburner. The weather widget says its 11 degrees outside and winds from the south. Looks like I will get rather wet today, I have to cross town a few times.

Might try out the new opticians today, a new one has opened in Papadamatis street. This (strangely) has persuaded the old opticians (That closed - leaving us in the lurch) to sell sunglasses only - to put a poster in the window to say it will be re-opening.

Very interested to see what 'spectacle' prices will be like, in this new competitive climate.  One of my friends says competition here, means they all sell their goods, at exactly the same price.

One of the supermarkets is still trying to sell off World cup 2010  beer glasses at full price - two years on - so  no change there then ....

But until then - Its porridge for an early breakfast, with the sound of raindrops ...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sea change ...

The weather has changed, the rain has come ...

The snow has been washed away here in town, but friends up in the hills still have a covering of snow. The forecast has changed and now it seems it will be wet from now on. Hopefully the temperature will improve too.

Its still biting cold outside and there has been a stiff breeze this evening. The sound of rain on the roof and a steady drip from a neighbours damaged gutter, the only clue to what is happening outside. We are behind closed shutters trying to keep the heat in.

The last few days, I have had the big fire lit. It has given me the opportunity to use some big logs up. Smaller logs go in the woodburner. However the woodpile has been substantially reduced this week. Not helped by the wood man trying to get me to accept split trunks - exactly what i have been sending up the chimney stored from previous years. The split trunks stayed on the truck - no good to me ...

Hopefully if the forecast is true, then better weather for the weekend, and the start of Carnival. Then a return to cold and freezing rain next week ...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

White mischief ...

The snow is here and causing trouble ...

Meanwhile at Evangelistra Monastery, Pater Iosif has been busy. He posted some photos of the winter snowscape ...








Meanwhile back in town, we are slip sliding around ...




Nikos, our friendly baker was nice and warm in the bakery, as was the bread ...