Monday, 19 March 2018

Old and Ancient

How did you bring your automobile across the 250 metre channel from the mainland in days gone by?

You got it rowed across to the island by two muscular greeks.  This is a wonderful photo, taken sometime in the 30s or 40s I would say.  Two water taxis hitched together carrying, is it a volkswagon? 

I'm sure it is one of those invincible volkswagens.  It would need to have been invincible to travel over the roads from the capitol, Athens, to the tiny coastal outpost of Galatas.  The road in those days wound along the coast from Athens, up into the dusty hills and into the rural hinterland of the Peloponese, through scattered agricultural settlements (think sheep and goats), over the mountains and finally down to the coast opposite Poros.  We are now two hours from Athens by road.  It must have taken most of a day back then

This Mycenean bridge was built over 3,000 years ago.  No cement used, just an impressive knowledge of engineering. There are even curbs to prevent fast moving chariots falling off.  It is part of a network of roads and bridges only an hour from us, presumably leading to the ancient theatre and healing centre at Epidavros, the citadel of Tiryns (said to be the birth place of Hercules), the ancient palace and military stronghold of Mycenae and other  castles and temples in this area.  There are four of these bridges still in excellent condition, all part of the same 'highway' and still used by locals.

The olive tree of Vouves in Crete.  It has been estimated to be between 3-4,000 years old and still produces olives.    There are equally ancient olive trees in al Badawi, Bethlehem ( 4-5,000 years old), Lebanon, Montengro, Croatia, Spain and Italy.

Near the tree in Bethlehem archeologists have found pottery with traces of olive oil dating back 8,000 years.   
8,000 years ago the climate was starting to get warmer after the end of the Ice Age and people began to domesticate animals, grow crops, and harvest olives. 

A plane tree on the island of Kos is thought to be the descendant of the tree under which Hippocrates, the father of medicine taught his pupils 2,400 years ago.  The present tree is  about 500 years old.

You can't sit under it anymore.  It is surrounded by a wall and railings.  The tree has become hollowed out over the years and is in danger from wood eating fungus.  A Japanese business man has offered to pay for research to save the tree. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Spring 'Garden'

I really can't call this post, gardening.    It is not the conventional garden, as in flowers, vegetables and assorted orderly plantings.

This is what our 'garden' looks like at the end of winter.  Now we have three weeks to clean it up and prepare for our easter gathering of the clans.

Front entrance.  A fridge, a washing machine and a vaccum cleaner.  The fridge is going to be an extra as our fridge is over 35 years old, and still working I might add.  It is waiting for a young, strong lad to move it inside.  The washing machine is awaiting its owner and the vaccum cleaner?    I hope it disappears very soon

The generation of Greeks after WW11 never threw out anything.  They  collected old bits of timber, doors, windows, pieces of corrugated iron because, well, you just never know when it might come in handy.  My sis-in-law stores paper bags, plastic bags, bits of ribbon and string, boxes, odd bits of paper, tins, cupboards of jars and plastic bottles.  

My traditional person does the same.  Our back yard is full, at least around the edges, off -cuts of timber, lengths of piping, old washing machines in case we need a spare part,  tables of various size and condition, a clutter of digging tools and more, much more.  My part of the house is the front and when the electrical appliances disappear and the pile of wood is removed to the rear it will be an inviting and appealing entryway.  No rubbish or 'treasures' allowed

This is my winter garden.  Green everywhere.  The lemon trees are bursting with growth this year and beautiful in green and yellow.  Same goes for the clover/oxalis, whatever it is.  It has formed a forest of green under the trees and now is in full flower.  The nasturtiums are slowly taking hold and I hope one day may rival the clover.  On the right a grape vine trails along the railings.  This has been severely pruned but green shoots and leaves have already appeared.  My lettuces and rocket are  free of weeds but the rocket has taken off and is in full flower too, its white petals reaching up the wall.

In two months the clover will have dried up and I'll pile it around the lemon trees for mulch.  The grape vine will have formed a curtain of green, the lettuces will be replaced by tomatoes and the nasturtiums will be just surviving the aridity of summer

The back 'garden'.  Over grown with weeds 2 metres high (almost)

Our friend and neighbour the weed-whacker man arrived and those tall weeds have been hacked back.  By the beginning of May they'll need whacking again. At least the yard will be respectable for easter and we can whitewash the walls

Still a lot of work to be done

One bundle of grape vine prunings drying out so they can be used on the BBQ. 

Red anemones.  The fields are full of these now and soon they will die out and be replaced by the poppy

The 'flanders' poppy

Thursday, 15 March 2018

On the Sea

These photos were taken by my son-in-law Kyriakos, Captain of the water taxi Socrates.

This is typical of some of the luxury yachts that anchor offshore for a few hours or a few days. Rumours gallop around the island that the Sheik of Araby-k, Charles and Camilla, even dear friend of affluent politicians, George Bush the Elder , or nowadays a Russian tycoon and his entourage have come ashore and are chowing down on lobster and caviar at one of the seaside tavernas

Sunrise over the 'Modi' on an early morning fishing trip

The blue, blue Aegean

A small church on the headland.  Opened up on its fiesta when crowds arrive by small boat to light a candle or maybe for a baptism or private wedding

The lighthouse at the entrance to Poros harbour.  This is accessed by a hike overland following a narrow goat track 

from the sea by small boat
The lighthouse is no longer operational but still serves as a beacon for those arriving on the island.  We pass the lighthouse, cruise round the headland and there is the picturesque white island harbour town on the horizon

Approaching Poros.
Rounding the headland

Chief Observing Officer

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Pictorial Poros (2

A  visual stroll through the back streets from  long time island resident Therese Byrne

A narrow lane leading off 'High Street' Poros

Picturesque back street

The old kindergarten on the left.  Two of my grandchildren spent a couple of years here.  Fortunately their teacher, Maria, was inspired and her enthusiasm and flair made up for the dark cramped school-room.  Poros has three kindergartens (pre-school) and this one has moved around to a bright new building where the children can see the sun and have room to play

Typical street scene.  White cube-like houses, blue shutters, narrow passages between them.  In the summer the balconies have pots of basil and geraniums and the women sit out on the street

These steps take you from the harbour up to St George's Square and the big church.  Steps, steps everywhere

Looking out from the Post Office.  Blue shutters and doors of the Harbour Police Headquarters

Artistic clay pot  in front of the Post Office

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Road Less Travelled

On an overcast Sunday afternoon we slowly wound our way along a deserted back road around the coast amongst the pine forests.  I was hoping to take some photos of the village of Methana under the volcano .  The  peninsular across the straits has 32 volcanoes but only one of them is obvious by its shape.

The day was dull and the horizon was an unclear blur.  What I thought was an evening mist was actually a dust cloud blown all the way from the Sahara.   Not good for far-off photos.

The old fire road goes round the back of the island through the pine forest.  Last winter the young pines which had sprouted along the sides of the road were reaching out into the middle  and on the tight narrow corners visibility was dangerously limited.  The forest service would not give permission to trim the pines but the council seems to have got around the ban and with the removal of the young trees the road seems twice as wide.

That's the sewage plant above and those rings are a fish farm in the sea below.  At least the swirling waters show the sewage plant is working. I wouldn't be too happy eating any of those fish though. The thought of its location is more than a little off-putting. Beware, all those fish are exported

A small bay away from the tourist beaches.  Access is either by goat track or by boat from the sea.  Wonderful place for a summer picnic and all day swim

There is a small island offshore to make it even more private

Teachers Island. Another small island, this one with a church.  Popular for baptisms and weddings. Thought to be unlucky for some reason to be married here.  Can't think why.  Bride, groom and guests sail into the small jetty by water taxi, Zorbi the Greek (throbbing greek tourist music) blasting from the speakers

Russian ruins.
The remaining walls of an old Russian Naval station.  Deserted in winter. A beach to let dogs run and to fly kites. In the summer there are concerts on the beach and during the day the sands are covered in sunbeds and umbrellas

Love Bay
Every inch of sand here is covered by a sunbed in August.  A small rounded bay with crystal clear waters, a small stone church on one side and natural shade from the pine trees right down on the beach.  A beautiful little bay and extremely popular. Off shore there are usually anchored a few luxury yachts. The canteen provides cold beers and coffees and Greek salads

Thursday, 8 March 2018


Some of the 'things' cluttering up our shelves

This is just a souvenir bottle, empty, that someone gave us but it really works.  We use it for raki, open the little tap down the bottom and fill up the glasses.  On the front is an island scene and the name, Poros, in Greek
Poros  -  Πορος

Our pasta maker.  Yes, we do use it a couple of times a year.  It is great fun making fresh pasta and now the grandchildren are getting older they can operate it by themselves, almost.

The pasta is simply made from flour and fresh eggs.  It is a project for a cold wet Sunday.  Homemade pasta seems more filling than your shop bought spaghetti, has a wonderful taste all of its own.  We normally eat it, in small portions, plain with grated cheese or maybe with the sauce from a stewed rooster or rabbit.  

The Captain's bell, bought for the Navy man in the house.  Thanκ goodness the grandkids seem to have forgotten it.  The noise it makes is  loud and clashing.  Now and again it is used to summon the family to the table. 
 My grandmother had an elephant bell. She lived down the end of  our long feijoa lined drive and on a Sunday she, or one of the younger grandchildren, would take great delight in ringing it to summon us all to the table.  A table of roast meat and potatoes, homemade bread, her own fruit wine and a steamed pudding with wine sauce.

My mother had one of these big heavy cold-meat mincers.  It was screwed on to the side of the bench and used to mince leftover meat.   This mincer was given to us and  sounded a perfect  idea for our feast-leftovers but has remained in the box for over a year now.   No-one wants to eat lumps of leftover pork or even goat because the cold meat grows tough and unappetising the next day.   Putting it through the mincer for a shepherds pie or even the base of a bolognaise sauce would save it from becoming cat food.  I shall put it on the kitchen bench and maybe we will remember to use it after one of our feasts.  The thought of having to clean the damn thing does put me off a bit.  Maybe nowadays you can just throw it in the dishwasher

Enamel mugs.  The traditional person in the house has gone back to his roots and prefers to drink his water from one of these.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Cauliflower Kapama
Kounoupidi Kapama  (κουνουπιδι καπαμα)

Kapama seems to mean anything cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  It comes from the Turkish word used to describe a ragout of mutton.  The spicy sauce can be used to cook chicken or lamb or beef, or cauliflower.  Think boeuf  bourguignon, think stew.

My m-in-law made it often in the winter when cauliflower (κουνουπιδι) was one of the few vegetables available. 

cauliflower cut into small pieces (florets)
chopped onion
chopped garlic
dash of wine
cinnamon stick
tomato paste
salt and lots of pepper or chili

Simple and tasty

I steamed my cauliflower, made the spicy tomato sauce with garlic, wine and cinnamon and heated them up together.

My m-in-law added olive oil to a big pan and sauteed the cauliflower pieces till they were nicely browned.

Here is her recipe -
Put half a wine glass of olive in a big pot. 
Add cauliflower pieces and brown 
Add chopped onion and garlic and brown some more
Finish the sautee-ing with half a glass of wine, red or white.

Now is the time to put in a mug of water and two big spoons of tomato paste
Add half a cinnamon stick

I don't really like cinnamon in savoury dishes but half a stick just gave it a little flavour boost without being too obvious

Add salt and pepper and something hot like fresh pepper or chili

Simmer till the cauliflower is soft and the sauce thickened a little, 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour

We ate this as a main meal (lunch) with bread and feta.  You could make it more substantial by serving it with rice or potatoes

It really made a change from boiled cauliflower with lemon juice and olive oil or the heavier cauliflower cheese.

Kali Orexi