In the meantime………

We appear to be missing one of our babies…..our pretty little bantam hen

Bantam Hen
Bantam Hen

Shunning the other bantams, including a rather handsome cock, she packed her little suitcase and moved down with the normal chickens, perhaps finding peace and quiet, enjoying her “maleless” existence, she laid, then brooded on a dozen eggs, which I happened to find, and managed to swap for fertilized eggs.  Next day she was up and about and her little nest was empty of eggs.  Not sure what cleared them out, but I`ve caught sight of a pine marten down in the river bed over the Winter. Anyway, today I see she`s missing again.  Bantams, being masters of keeping out of sight, I`m hoping she`s tucked into an overgrown corner somewhere, and hasn`t actually been eaten by something!  Time will tell.

Two days later, still no sign.  I wonder how long it`ll take her to understand her eggs aren`t fertilized.

And 10 days later, still no sign.

Perfecting the Plot

Well, despite being rather hot today, it was again, a rather strange hazy day.  Nevertheless,  jobs down in the garden were on the programme.  Nice to be welcomed so brightly!

Morning!
Morning!

Then on to clearing the accumulated stones and weeds at the base of the wall, in readiness for some more vines.

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Gardening is like paintwork.  You tidy/weed (paint) one part of the garden (house) and the rest starts yelling, “what about me?” So, having eyeballed enough jobs to see me through to my pension years, I inwardly decided I should invest in some blinkers. In the meantime, hubbie planted a couple more young vines.

Then to cut some laurel leaves, as my jar is empty.new 520 (Small)

Laurel Leaves
Laurel Leaves

Smelt divine as I was tying them up to dry!

 

Today`s Musings

Gotta love my hubbie, whom plants way more courgette plants than we need, to combat this courgette torrent, I have accumulated a wealth of recipes to cater for this daily glut.  Latest is courgette croquettes/balls/keftethes. Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες.  See recipe category.  Still have plenty up my sleeve yet!

Weather`s been really strange this May, with hottest first week ever recorded.  A freak storm mid month rattled our house with thunder and lightening bolts, actually knocking some render off from under our balcony and cracking a tile in the bathroom.  We weren`t home fortunately, and returned to the whole of the balcony resembling a small swimming pool, as the drain was blocked with leaves (little were we expecting a torrential downpour). The dogs unsettled and soggy, and our nephew sitting in his car waiting for the storm to pass (he lives upstairs).

And the month continues to be odd, with overly hot days and today, a rather hazy, overcast day, but temps again too high in the early 30`s.

In the space of 20 days, the kerb sides became brown, with scarcely a glimpse of the lush green which reigned just a few days ago.  The sea went from too cold to even consider taking a dip, (just ask my niece Jenny), to “OMG, let me in the sea”, seemingly overnight.  Just another symptom of this dreaded climate change.  Popping to Gouves yesterday, I was relieved to still see plenty of snow on Psiloritis, Lefki Ori mountain range, I do wonder how long it`ll last with these temperatures though.

All our remaining late Spring crops came crumbling down, scorched with the high temperatures.  But on the other hand, tomatoes are taking on new heights daily, with an abundance of fruit, which I snaffle the minute it has ripened.  Grape vines are also flowing generously, with their promise of  this year`s crop hanging, tantalizing, reminding us there`s work to be done.  They need new shoots tying, runners removing where necessary.  Plus I have to gather vine leaves for brining to use for dolmathes (ντολμάδες) through the year.

Vags brought up the last of the beets.  My shoulders fell in despair, “not more beets” I bleated!  I have so many jars of beetroot chutney on the shelf already.  I used to love the Cretan prepped beet, served with raw garlic, olive oil and vinegar, but there is, I suspect, only a limited amount of beet one can eat, and I think I have reached that limit.

The last batch of beetroot chutney I made, I thought it`d be a good idea to spice it up and threw in a rather hefty pinch of dried chilli flakes……………..ptssssssssssssss!!!

Argh, slightly hot!  I have to say “slightly hot” as I try to cover my flushed face from Vagelis, whom, shakes his head in lack of understanding of my occasional need to eat all things hot and spicey!  I fear I may have ruined this batch of chutney, but for the time being, it languishes on my shelf with the label declaring HOT.

The greenhouse has been cleared out and will be left vacant for the Summer, being able to achieve temperatures suitable to fire a ceramic pot, despite three windows and the door left ajar!  This year, we`ll plant the Winter tomatoes earlier, then maybe we`ll enjoy some before they`re growing outdoors! It was only built in January actually, hence missing most of the Winter, but hey, can`t do everything.  I did say on an earlier post, we`re still learning!

So, I`ll call it a night and leave you with a Greek word I think, or actually two phrases.

παράξενος καιρός – (paraksenos cheros) strange weather

παράξενοι καιροί – (parakseni cheri ) strange times

 

Our Partridges

We were lucky to have the opportunity to raise a few partridges here at Kanakary.  A difficult bird, sensitive to sickness, but beautiful, both in appearance and in voice.  To hear the male calling in the morning and late evening lifted your spirits, but at the same time, reminded us that these birds are not domesticated, and should remain in the wild.  Despite the heartache we suffered raising these birds, we took great pleasure today in handing a small number to the local Forestry Commission in Neapoli, in readiness for release into the wild, to a specially protected area.  Hunters, pine martens and domestic cats, all enemies of this bird, including lack of suitable habitats, have been the main reasons this bird is under threat of disappearing here in Crete.  The Forestry Commission instigated a programme to re-introduce this bird into the Cretan countryside, recently releasing 700.

Chukar .Alectoris chukar is the species.

Partridges (1) (Small)

Partridges (Small) Partridges (4) (Small) Partridges (3) (Small) Partridges (2) (Small)

Hope they have a nice life!

 

Oregano galore!

It`ll soon be ready for harvesting!

Rigani (Small)

Apart from being a delightful addition to many Cretan foods, such as roast goat and lamb on the spit, sprinkled on village salads and feta cheese, roast chicken and pork, and numerous other Cretan delights, it also has medicinal uses.

Oregano

For coughs: Leave 15 grams of oregano bloom to soak in 1 litre of boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drink 2 glasses a day to help with your cough or asthma.

Mild Stomach disorders: Boil one teaspoon of oregano bloom in 2.5 litres water for two minutes.  Strain.  Drink a glass of this water before meals to aid digestion and deter wind.

 

Rigani (2) (Small)

This Dream Called Crete

 

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Views around Kanakary
Artichoke Spent
Artichoke Spent
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View from Kanakary, Crete
Votsalo Crete
Votsalo Crete
Playing Peekaboo in Crete courtesy of Yannah Bidirini
Playing Peekaboo in Crete (high res)
A tight squeeze Hania Crete
A tight squeeze Hania Crete
Anoghia Crete
Anoghia Crete
Spinalonga Σπιναλόνγα, Crete
Spinalonga Σπιναλόνγα, Crete

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Limnes from a high, Crete
Limnes from a high, Crete
Hot Chillies τουρκάκια
Hot Chillies τουρκάκια
Lassithi Plateau Crete
Lassithi Plateau Crete
Turtle in the Lake at Zaros Crete
Turtle in the Lake at Zaros Crete
Raki Distillery
Raki Distillery
Plaka Crete
Plaka Crete
Outside Zoniana Cave Crete
Outside Zoniana Cave Crete
A typical house interior Limnes Crete
A typical house interior Limnes Crete
Georgoupoli Rethymno Crete
Georgoupoli Rethymno Crete
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Thrassi East Crete
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Lassithi Plateau Crete

 

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Engine Devoured, Lassithi Plateau Crete

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The Plane Tree, Krassi, Municipality of Mallia, Crete
The Plane Tree, Krassi, Municipality of Mallia, Crete
Snowy Mountain tops, Mount Dikti, Lassithi Plateau, Crete
Snowy Mountain tops, Mount Dikti, Lassithi Plateau, Crete
Zeus and Europa, Agios Nikolaos, Crete.  The beautiful mortal, Europa attracted the attentions of that naughty God, Zeus.  Transforming into a white bull, he was able to approach her and persuaded her to jump on his back.  Once she mounted, he plunged into the sea and made for Crete.  There, in Gortys, they made love under the plane trees.
Zeus and Europa, Agios Nikolaos, Crete. The beautiful mortal, Europa attracted the attentions of that naughty God, Zeus. Transforming into a white bull, he was able to approach her and persuaded her to jump on his back. Once she mounted, he plunged into the sea and made for Crete. There, in Gortys, they made love under the plane trees. (Greek Mythology Sofia Souli)

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Some the 49 Steps.  Agios Nikolaos, Crete
Some of the 49 Steps. Agios Nikolaos, Crete
Votsalo Beach, Agios Nikolaos, Crete
Votsalo Beach, Agios Nikolaos, Crete
Ha Gorge, (Thripti Mountains) Crete
Ha Gorge, (Thripti Mountains) Crete
Voulismeni Lake Agios Nikolaos Crete

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Easter in Crete
Easter in Crete
Rethymno Crete
Rethymno Crete
Sea Urchin Crete
Sea Urchin Crete
Apple overload, Lassithi Plateau Crete
Apple overload, Lassithi Plateau Crete
Agios Antonis road and beach (6) (Small)
Agios Antonis road and beach North East Crete. Mother Nature absorbing man`s carelessness

Agios Antonis road and beach (1) (Small) Agios Antonis road and beach (4) (Small)

Chania
Chania Crete

 

 

Hercules and the Lion of Nemea
Hercules and the Lion of Nemea in Axos, Rethymno, Crete
Chania Crete
Chania Crete
Chania Crete
Chania Crete
Chania
Chania
Chania
Chania
Greek Neighbour (courtesy of Keith Poole)
Greek Neighbour (courtesy of Keith Poole)
George Skoulas regailing Cretan music in his father`s museum in Anoghia Crete. A treat all visitors experience!
George Skoulas regailing Cretan music in his father`s museum in Anoghia Crete. A treat all visitors experience!
QE 2 Visiting Agios Nikolaos, Mirabello Bay, Crete July 2007
QE 2 Visiting Agios Nikolaos, Mirabello Bay, Crete July 2007

 

 

 

 

 

Karavostasio Beach Istro (4) (Small)
Karavostasio Beach Istro Crete

 

Crete, in all it`s magnificence
Crete, in all it`s magnificence
May Day in Crete
May Day in Crete
Des Res to be  renovated, unless Mother Nature beats us to it!  Garazo, Crete
Des Res to be renovated, unless Mother Nature beats us to it! Garazo, Crete
Crete brings out the boys in everyone! The Tree, Krassi Crete
Crete brings out the boys in everyone! The Tree, Krassi Crete
South Coast, East of Ierapetra Crete
South Coast, East of Ierapetra Crete
No comment!
No comment!
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Small Cliff behind Kanakary, Crete
Sarakino Gorge Hike 2011.  Just needed to cool off a tadge, and we just happened to find this lovely oasis! Crete
Sarakino Gorge Hike 2011. Just needed to cool off a tadge, and we just happened to find this lovely oasis! Crete
A typical courtyard in Limnes Crete
A typical courtyard in Limnes Crete
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Kalo Horio Crete
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On Route to Malles Crete

 

 

Forty Nine Steps in Crete

A Bit About Me

My life is conveniently divided into two parts.  Life before Crete and Life in Crete.  The second part of my life became the only important part, with never an ounce of regret in coming to this magical island.  This island took a hold over me and pricked my subconscious mind to “come back”, “visit me”, “fall deeper in love with me” like a rogue Cupid, it speared my heart with an inexplicable need to be here.  Albeit it rather hard to clarify this love affair with Crete, which over the years (almost half of my life), has revealed all sides of it`s multi faceted coin, all it`s glory, beauty, mystery and tradition and all it`s poorer, darker, less attractive side.

Nevertheless, I packed a suitcase and returned to Crete in 1991 after my brief holiday here, a decision which could be considered perhaps more reckless than brave.  Not knowing where or what I would be doing, I just knew that Crete was the place to be.  Not going into too much detail, I eventually settled down with my lovely husband Vagelis and had my even lovelier daughter Yannah.  I worked in various jobs before eventually moving into the countryside to our new home, with 2,500 m2 virgin land, where rock abounded in great hills with unruly shrub and bush.  Being on the incline of the valley, everywhere required leveling into plains, which my husband set about doggedly with machines, sometimes with bare hands, building stone walls and leveling workable garden area.

Then, I began my career as a local estate agent representative, which gave me an incredible opportunity to experience first hand, contact with the Cretan folk.  I enjoyed meeting and chatting to both the little old lady in the village, to officials in the civil service.  My knowledge of the language improved, I gained insight into how villages became abandoned, hence leaving a legacy of ruins, which remaining owners attempted to sell.  I guess having a love of Crete and all things Cretan, this particular job was made in heaven.

Sadly, many villages were becoming reduced to just a handful, of usually elderly residents, as the younger generations were drawn to the towns, where technology ruled, jobs were plentiful, and mainly, where there were no agricultural duties to be executed.  The lifestyles, values and traditions of the Cretan people in jeopardy of been wiped into oblivion, not to mention the change of diet in the modern day Cretan, whom turned to fast food alternatives, with meat becoming a main stay of their every day life.

The true Cretan lifestyle model usually revolved around agriculture, including various animals, providing the basics to survive all year round.  An inborn ability to use everything nature offered, waste nothing.  This was one of the reasons which attracted me to Crete, I saw a lifestyle which shunned modern gadgets, modern ideals.  It didn`t seem to matter that an old pair of trousers were held up with rope, or that the family goat had to pass through the kitchen to get to it`s stable in the rear, or the kitchen table was charred black, by decades of sitting too close to the kitchen hearth.

The search for properties took me to remote villages, where a mere handful of residents lived, into derelict corners, where arches would still stand, in defiance of the destructive forces which had wrecked the remainder of the house.  Once where walls stood, grape vines flourished, gardens bloomed, I witnessed heaps of stones, occasional key, stone pillars missing, presumably pilfered, whisked away to other “under renovation” projects, the remnants of a life, strewn amongst the ruins, but ultimately forgotten.

Witnessing Mother Nature fulfilling her duties and reclaiming what`s Hers, creating a canopy of green, partially hiding the accumulated rubbish amongst the stones and with it, the life, family and dramas played out there.  I would step carefully, trying to avoid crushing the delicate chamomile sprouting between the debris, tiptoeing through the tangled grape vines at my feet, I would find once again, stirring within me, that never ending desire to reclaim and nurture these abandoned homes, make them rise again, humbly, offering refuge, life, to re-establish these old neighbourhoods.

Longing to experience and relish the traditions and lifestyle, which all elderly Cretans took for granted as being the only way to live, little did they acknowledge that their lifestyle was anything spectacular or unusual, I marvelled their simplistic ideals and versatility, their unending knowledge on how to survive the hardest conditions.  Living through war and famine and subsequent civil war, they effortlessly filled their tables and larders with the bounty provided by nature.*  They would wander through the allotments and orchards and return home with a bag full of greens, which western Europeans wouldn`t spare a second glance, perhaps only to consider feeding to the rabbits.  Wild asparagus, wild spinach, wild chicory, fennel, mallow, wild leeks, wild asparagus, poppy, nettle are some of the more common ones, with many others not so recognized in the English language, such as vlita, avronies or ovries, galatsida, stifnos, kallitses, stamnaghathi ………prepared with potatoes and served with lemon juice and olive oil is to die for!

Each family would have their own entourage of animals and a close-by allotment to provide the necessities throughout the year.  The slaughtering of an animal, for instance a pig, would be the highlight of the season, resulting in a celebration, with no part of the animal going to waste, having no refrigerators, preserving the meat was of course a necessity, easily undertaken by the lady of the house.

*Of course there were many problems during and post WW2, where families did go hungry.  A particular story comes to mind which my father in law relayed to me.  But I will come back to that another day!

Alas, just short of a decade further down the line, when the bottom more or less fell out of the real estate business, I found myself without work, nigh on 50, not a particularly great catch for prospective employers, I began to fill my time with my garden and it`s produce.  Never intending it to be anything other than a “time filler” – it grew.  Then my husband retired and began to get involved by my side, slowly taking over the land and developing and nurturing it became an everyday goal.

 Naturally, we tried our skills with animals, along with the joy of disappearing down into the garden and returning with an armful of various vegetables, we delighted in gathering chicken, bantam and turkey eggs, breeding rabbits, turkeys, partridges, not to mention the three goats we had for a period.

This new found world of home produce, filled us both with satisfaction and glee, that we were at last able to provide the main stay of our diets ourselves, without the worry of how many chemicals and hormones we were ingesting inadvertently in supermarket foods.  Although I was raised on a farm till the age of 11, I had little idea as to how things should be done, similarly, my husband was a builder, so had no experience whatsoever how to cultivate, so you could imagine the disappointments and problems we endured.  Still, we learn, even today.  What goes wrong this year, we know for next year a different course of action is needed.

So begins my next project.  Blogging.  New to me, but I`d love to share my experiences and information obtained here in my beloved Crete, with you, my fellow readers.

 

Welcome!