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 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


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.

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.

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.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

2004!!!!! Unforgettable....Hooligans not required

In no time at all the sounds of home are replaced by the orchestra of Greece. The white noise of cicada’s that suddenly stop……and then start . The Cockerel crowing at first light and braying of a donkey. The whining of scooters going up and down the hill to the village with the occasional screech of brakes on the bend we all know so well. The church bells ringing out in celebration of birth, death and marriage. The horns honking as the procession of cars climb up to the village for a wedding. The cackling of birds, dogs barking and cats miaowing. The Greek voices talking when it sounds like shouting and if we’re lucky Greek music and singing.

But nothing quite prepares you for the noise and sheer excitement of a whole village celebrating winning the European Cup. Up and down the hill, round and round the bay, blowing horns, hooters sounding, singing, cheering and Maria Headmistress of the Primary school standing up in the back of the car screaming her head off like crazy. Well you've got to let your hair down sometime. The party and celebrations went on all night. 2004 a memorable occasion. Not a hooligan in sight .

It isn’t noisy, loud or brash it’s awesome and you never feel alone. I love it


What will a selfie look like in another 100 years or more?

Every morning as I sit on my balcony and look up at the castle of Kefalos I see people standing on the edge of the ruins surveying the bay of Kamari and far out across the plain to the Dikaios  mountains and beyond just as they must have done throughout ancient times. They stand there in their shorts and t-shirts gazing out for the sheer fun of it, taking photos and selfies and you can’t help wonder at the innocence of such behaviour and yet give a moments thought to all the times through the ages others have stood in that same place. I imagine Knights of St John, Romans, Ottomans, Greeks, Italians, Germans among so many all standing and looking out for so many different reasons. I wonder how many people throughout history have also had the time just to enjoy and take pleasure in the view. A great place to soak up history and stand in the feet of others. What will a selfie look like in another 100 years or more?


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Beach Babe! I wish

I love being on the beach. I’m a people watcher. I sit in the shade following it round with my head under the umbrella and my legs in the sun. This requires plenty of space and although I appreciate all the beaches around Kefalos and what they have to offer my criteria is matched on Magic Beach. Space, shallow water around the edges, peace and quiet mainly, toilets and a Taverna close by.

I can’t swim so I float around in the shallows as long as I can get into the surf with no rocks, no slippery bits and no sudden drop so I have to line myself up with a particular sunshade along the line to feel safe. I’d love to be able to return from the sea to my sunbed  looking  like Ursula Andress but never manage it. I’m always stumbling about, looking for the best exit route and invariably catch a wave that finally helps me with that final flounder onto the beach. So Beach Babe I am not.

So I just love to watch the cool people, the ones who manage to look like their make- up is still in place, the sun worshipers who stand by the sea turning slowly like a Spit Roast to get an even sun tan. The Prominaders with their bum bags on a jaunty angle that walk and talk, if they haven’t got headphones on from one bay to another. The Kindle readers who don’t have to worry when a sudden gust of wind blows their paperback down the beach. The organised picnickers with cool bags and water melons anchored in the sea to stay chilled. The Jet skiers zipping along out of harm’s way and the serious swimmers and every Sunday for as long as I can remember this same woman swims slowly and deliberately to Paradise and back while her husband reads the paper.

I love it and nobody notices what I’m doing which is perfect unless of course Ron starts snoring for England and I have to bash him every so often or turn him over to ensure an ‘even sun tan’ instead of a bucket of un cool sea water.

The strangest thing I’ve ever seen though was a rather large, tall, rotund, naked man walking his Poodle Dog on a lead along the seashore. Not cool, not attractive but definitely brave. I must have misjudged my spot on the beach that day. Still I do love people watching…………


Saturday, 2 July 2016

I'm a morning person

I always go to Kos town first thing in the morning to avoid the real heat of the day and aim to make my way back out along the flat coastline of the north shore to Mastichari or Tigaki for lunch but still have time for snacks in Kos town. A creature of habit I park near the Odeon walk along past the museum and turn left to the shops. The shop keepers have set up small tables and chairs outside their shops today and are drinking coffee and chatting as there are so few people around at the moment. A group of school children troop past with their teachers off to look at ruins even they have to do the tourist bit and I guess there is plenty of opportunity in Kos town. Kids seem to be the feature of the day today groups on the beach in Mastichari later giggling and chattering chasing each other in and out of the sea. Marching across the square in line heading towards the Boats in the harbour. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced this as I’ve met them hiking in the woods and picnicking in Plaka before. I’m on holiday though and came to get away from school children.

So back to shopping, just managed to avoid that amazing Ice cream, cake shop on the corner with every flavour imaginable and popped in for some advice in the Phone shop really helpful in there. Straight over to the Agora and the aroma hits you before you even go in. Herbs, spices, olives, honey, fruit and veg, perfumes, lotions, potions you name it it’s there and out into the Square for coffee, cake and people watching.


No one is hurrying, people saunter around taking photos, posing, taking selfies and soaking up the atmosphere. Even the business men cool in suits with open necked shirts cross the square purposefully but unhurried with briefcases and smart shoes stop for takeout coffees on their way through. Watching the world go by is only a precursor to other things…………

Highway I

Highway 1 as I call it from Kefalos to Kos makes an interesting ride and if only they had a double decker bus with the top off. The journey would be the better for it so that all the senses could be used to fully experience the journey.

It’s early summer and the sun hasn’t had chance to dry out the land yet, so the landscape is fresh and blossoming. The surrounding fields are golden and newly mown. Wild flowers are buzzing with bees and vivid blue Morning Glories raise their heads to the sun. Great waves of Pink and White Oleander line the road from Kefalos to Antimachia.

Grazing in the distance are small flocks of sheep, tethered cows next to their calves and herds of goats with their Bells Jingling as the climb over the rocks and rough pasture. Women wearing head scarves to protect them from the sun are collecting berries and herbs as chickens wander round their feet.

Pockets of Olive groves and vineyards appear in this patchwork landscape and as you get nearer to the turning for Zia the white ducks quack on the little lake. The Mountains loom up to my right cloaked in deep green pine trees almost to the tip and houses nestle in their midst. To my left the sea and distant Islands feature on the horizon.

The occasional Farm shop has set up by the road and old, new and unfinished houses sit left and right of me. Garden stores, Bakeries, Fashion stores appear from nowhere and the closer you get to Zipari and beyond the more shops and Businesses line the road. Yet still the backdrop of fields and farm animals remain but now the serious commercial end has started. Lidl, Peugeot, Toyota, Bridal wear, Tool hire and framing this picture of trade are Hibiscus, bougainvillea and scented geraniums tumbling out from the gaps in the wall or over the driveways.

As I drive into Kos town the old car park is scented with Honeysuckle and Jasmine and brightly coloured shrubs line my walk in to the centre and I’ve arrived for another sensory experience.