John wrote recently about his very enjoyable birthday, celebrated with our friends Auriol, Pete and their daughter, Helen. The birthday was only part of the fun. We did the usual treats such as the walk to Kastro up the two gorges, swimming at Tholos (even in the middle of November) and enjoying the various tavernas we frequent.
One new trip was to Agios Nikolaos to do some shopping. Auriol, Helen and I found a nice shop, selling olive soaps and creams and we then met up in a taverna. Pete was a great source of interest to the local people there, as he admired the workings of the windows behind him in the taverna, not something that most tourists do!
This year we have had 15 sets of people staying with us. For the last month we have been on our own. How did we cope without visitors?
Well, it has been a very social month. This has been mainly due to our Greek class! We met Shona there. She comes from Cupar and her husband Rich, from the north of England but now they live in Koutsouras on the South coast here. Through them, we have been introduced to a new taverna in Makrigialos and we expanded the last meal we had together to include a walk in our ‘back garden’. They come from social work/ information technology backgrounds so we do dip into issues related to that and happily dip out of them again!
Pauline and Chris, a Dutch couple, live in Kavousi. Pauline also attends Greek classes but she is in another group as she speaks Greek so much better than we do! They are geologists who live and work in Kavousi and own a sail boat. Again Pauline and Chris took us to a new (for us) taverna, in Mochlos, not far from where we live. This local knowledge about tavernas open in the winter is very useful. Many places are shut anyway for the winter but this year, some tavernas who might usually be open, are closed because there are so many olives to pick.
Yesterday, we were invited to eat crepes with Eleni and Bernard. They are from Brittany and clearly are disgusted by the fact that the French Government has made no attempt at devolution or anything even looking like it. Communication is an interesting experience. Bernard speaks little Greek or English but good French and Breton. Eleni is in our Greek class so at the same level as us and has a little more English than Bernard. We speak good English, some Greek and school French. Unfortunately the French I knew has been replaced by Greek so it is a little tricky! We didn’t need to worry though. They were fantastic hosts.
They have an area outside their house, covered with a pergola, which has everything – a kitchen, an amazing device for making crepes, a sound system so we could listen to Celtic music while we ate. Eleni had prepared everything in advance. We had four crepes, all with different fillings and all completely delicious.
Bernard, in the meantime, was the drinks host. First, a glass of sparkling wine, then the most wonderful Breton cider, followed by Cretan wine and then a small glass of Breton whisky made from buckwheat. And when the conversation died a little, then Celtic music boomed out and I was even moved to get up and do a little Scottish dancing!
The sun shone, it was warm and it felt really good to be here! Didn’t seem to be any neighbours around and just as well!
The Greek classes are now finished until the end of January. We had the test and like the last one, John and I did brilliantly well. Unfortunately, John beat me again by 2 marks which is extraordinarily irritating. Rosie rightly said that the point of the test is not to improve your Greek but to beat Dad. I failed again!!!! But we had a really good party to end the term with everybody bringing food to the community hall where we have our lessons and the wine provided by the hall committee.
John and I think we have no escape next semester. Χρησα (Chrisa), our tutor, is on the warpath. She asks why we can get such good marks and yet can’t or won’t speak the language? So I think it will all be speaking next term!
So, everywhere I go now, I talk to people, whether they want to hear me or not! Added to that, our listening is pretty bad too so we have taken up watching somewhat dodgy Greek black and white films from the 1960’s, in the early evening on TV. There are huge numbers of them so it is a cheap way of learning. It’s a bit decadent and at present, it’s also debatable as to how successful the strategy is!!!!
On the theme of listening, I went to the Ierapetra Tennis Club AGM last Monday. This was an interesting experience. I was fortunate in that the person who introduced me to the Club is on the Committee so he helped with some of the translation. However, I could understand enough to know that there was a lot of talk and argument but not really anything about the tennis programme and seemingly no decisions made. There were no introductions and while I didn’t feel unwelcome, I didn’t feel welcome either.
However, I did participate in my first vote in Greece and helped elect the new council of the Club but it was done on the basis of very limited knowledge and mostly based on my friend’s views! Still, I think I understand a little more about the workings of the Club and my slight frustrations with it.
I have had a bad year in terms of my camera. I waited months to get a new lens and a few days later, promptly dropped it on our very hard, tiled floor and it wouldn’t work. So I accepted the inevitable that this camera and I were not meant to be. John and I had a day out to Heraklion where we enjoyed buying Christmas presents, lunch out and the Christmas decorations.
And a new camera was purchased. Like the last one, it has a great zoom so I enjoyed trying it out later during a walk around Kavousi. I think the zoom is pretty good showing the olives and the oranges on the tree, at their best.
One Wednesday morning, we went to the garden shop in Ierapetra, bought a small Pefko Pine, attended our Greek class and after that we went onto Hans and Hanneke’s house. It was a nice day and the hole had already been dug by Ben who does some work there. The pine was planted,
We all remembered good times with Bonnie and John and I felt happy that her final resting place was with people she loved being with and where she had had such good times.
The olive season is in full swing and John and I went down to the olive processing plant and admired the large number of sacks of olives.
Our life this month has been very different from our Greek neighbours. Because there are so many olives, every day they are busy picking them and it is hard work. Maria and Nikos have been working for 2 or 3 weeks and it seems that this will continue for another 2 weeks. Nikos brought round a bottle of the new oil and already it tastes delicious with bread although needs to settle for sometime before proper use. Our neighbour, Ευτυχία (Evtikia) told me that her four children (all around my age) were in Kavousi to pick the family crop. It feels a bit like the summer when Kavousi had many family members from Athens, Patras etc to stay.
A year ago, we moved into our house in Kavousi. There are a number of improvements that have been made to it, including the building of the wall, a new gate, a new stove and now we are about to have new doors and windows. We arrived back from our Celtic cuisine to find doors and windows stacked against the spare room, awaiting fitting.
Our hearts sank. They were ordered a long time ago and while they look beautiful we didn’t really want works going in our house over the Christmas period. As I write this, we wait for a phone call to find out what will happen next!
The postman, Manolis, is coming here everyday and I think feels a little aggrieved about the strange British habit of sending everybody a Christmas card. But, it won’t last for long so we hope he will forgive us in time.
Rosie has arrived for Christmas from Milwaukee and Graham and Emily arrive on Sunday. I feel very lucky. Happy Christmas.