Thursday, 21 April 2016

Vintage Corfu......


Vintage Corfu in the villages.....

Another fine sunny day here on the island so we were out and about in Yellow Peril visiting a few local villages - I just love the signs around resort. So today not a lot of text its more about the photos that just took my interest.  I call it Vintage Corfu as I just embrace (it just gives me a tingle of old Corfu) the mostly hand made signs and the originality of it encapsulating the village life as you sup your Ouzo (well as did ole man Aris) and me as is normal with a little white wine or a retsina....meze and chill out....

If you do and I would recommend you do venture up into Avliotes then try the local Kafeneion here, many moons ago it was our original Post Office. The post was literally left there and we all went to reclaim our letters in the big brown cardboard box.



So today we sat on the roadside and really and literally watched the world and the cars pass us by..... order a drink they bring you olives, cheese and salami........


Venturing over to Arillas stop by another Kafenion Nikolletas with views over towards Arillas in a lovely garden area and stock up on fresh bread and other supplies.......






And just at the junction going into the village of Avliotes are the signs taking you up-to the church of Taxichon ( we were married there a few years back)








Venturing up from this junction another lovely stop would be at Havianias for mezes and wine - do pop inside as this traditional little ouzeria will amaze you as you will find some original examples of Vintage Corfu, hanging there and displayed on their walls including old olive oil utensils, coffee grinding machines etc.......open lunchtimes and evening.......order a jug of wine they bring you a tempting meze too which is a fine example of their menu.......



The signs for me just say it all ....Life in a Corfu Village....... Put it on your to do list this summer........


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Flowers, Photos and ........

Wednesday - it has been mild here over the past few days so I have really not done an awful lot other than enjoy the heady days of April before starting my full time work in May. I am on holiday too..... well at least for another week.....

We have cleared out the fireplace at home as really there is no point thinking about lighting a fire when its 27c outside during the daytime......and even in the cool of the evenings at around 17c - if we just zap the air con on warm temps for half an hour it does surfice.......

However with the mild temperatures we do have to consider that those nasty blighters the Mozzies which are out and about so much earlier than normal so this did mean I washed the mozzzie net and it is now above the main bedroom bed as just the other night my fingers were being bitten alive as there was as always even after all these years my fresh foreign blood to be had........I may have been here almost 35 years but they just love me still.......


The mild weather has brought out some earlier than normal flowers - oh April is just an amazing month to be here on the island.

With the direct flights supported by the independent airlines, not just from UK but from other European destinations and via Athens which also has many internal flights onto the island every day, it is wonderful to see non main line tourism wanting to know more about the island, the culture, history and to embrace it's appeal - this time of the season its not all about beaches and bars but about where to go, see, visit and just to chill and enjoy our amazing April weather..... for me it's the colours, the smells and just the quirkiness which makes this island appealing off main season. The locals have time to sit and welcome you and to also enjoy with you  - just so you can also have a laid back holiday...... Great friends are made during this time of the year...........

Easter for us is almost here....... I will be updating with the Easter preparations from our village house next week........








Sunday, 17 April 2016

Meze, Meetings, Meals and More........

Meze, Meals, Meetings and More....

Today, Sunday, my post or blog will be a summary of the past 6 days as with summer just around the corner, time seems to be running away from me........ In November when the winter stretched before me it seemed eternal however in 2 weeks time just after our Easter (Othodox)  - we will all be up and running and have little time to think...


So after the heavy rains of the previous weekend - which were very much needed, Tuesday broke into a bright haze and has been so warm, temperatures most days from lows of 21c and today Sunday reaching 27c. Bright blue sky's mostly cloudless and very little breeze - it just feels so warm here at the moment.



The wonderful romantic Fireflies can be seen now most evenings, we had one in the bedroom the other night which actually woke me at 04.00 hrs it was flickering away, I opened the windows and shutters and I do hope it escaped and manged to join its playmates outside as I then just crashed and went back to sleep....... I love to sleep.........

Friends of ours have arrived to their home here
in the village, with the direct flights which have now started from UK destinations, so we had a little get together with amazing, as always Mezes from Ilias Taverna  www.iliastaverna.com and of course lots of wine, beer and retsina. Think we rolled home around 01.00 hours well feed and watered of course....... This was a girlie night - boys stayed at home and watched TV!!!!!


Lots of home cooking this week and trying to be good with it still being Lent. Saturday the white van arrived in the village at 11.30 am, he parks up and plays a melody of wonderful Greek tunes, welcoming all to his van.


I love the winter when I can wander up from our little village house and buy the fresh fruit and vegetables, it makes me think about planning the weekly menu which today included the large green ripe peppers and tasty tomatoes I purchased from him on Saturday.....So yes today, Sunday, its was stuffed peppers and tomatoes with Lemon potatoes and very nice too......Yes I cheated again and added Feta Cheese for a topping.  I just love Feta Cheese....... See tomorrows (Monday's) menu ......



As we approach summer I am involved with local businesses around the resort and all over Corfu. I was invited, a few days ago to see a wonderful stone built cottage recently completed in Agios Stefanos in the area known as Stousa. Having seen this cottage I now want to live there however it is a holiday let and can be found on the website I have just made for them on www.villapetracorfu.com- I now have some inspirational ideas on how to improve my own little house........ took the old man with me so he knows what I am looking for too.....


and then up-to Nikolettas for a frappe/coffee stop, lovely setting and if you need any supplies a mini-market just next door almost next to Arillas Brewery for those wanting to try out the local beers here.......




At the weekend, mid afternoon and with temperatures again being so mild I met up with some dear friends at Akrotiri Cafe, if you haven't as yet been there you must put it on your to do list if staying in resort or visiting....... A wonderful location overlooking the bays or both Arillas and Agios Stefanos, set within stylish gardens and loos to die for!!!!!! Coffee served with a chocolate cake so yummy and great service from the lovely Nikos, who work here and is the son of Landos, whom owns our local coffee shop in the village..........



From our garden again with pleasant temperatures things are just springing up around us....chives starting to flower, for the salads, bottle brush with its vibrant colours and the bunny rabbit flowers too.....

Sunday evening now so its Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes consumed and tomorrow we will start to prepare the garden and patio area ready for summer, outdoor furniture for Al Fresco dining, clean the log fire and stack the left over wood for next November.



Enjoy your Sunday All and if you want to know how I make stuffed tomatoes and peppers just log on again tomorrow.  This receipt was handed down to me from some lovely Greek ladies I met whilst staying/ living on the mainland in Ioanina in the Epirus Area and on the island of Spetses in the Argo Saronic chain.  I am sure everyone has their own way of preparing but this is how I have interpreted theirs.....and the ole man must like it he is now fast asleep on the sofa having eaten more than enough.......





Monday, 11 April 2016

Monday Menu from the Village

Monday - Our evening menu today will be Beetroots with a Garlic Sauce some chips and a salad.
(Greek being Pantzaria Skordalia).
3 weeks today and prior to Easter (Paska in Greek) this year falling on Sunday May 1st - and in fairness we should all be eating a Lenten diet........

So we have beetroots including the leaves, the left over bread from Sunday made into a garlic sauce and some potatoes chipped......

I am sure each region has their own way of preparing this meal so I am recording how it was taught to me many years ago when I was a winter visitor in Ioannina in the Epirus Area of Greece and until this day this is the way we eat it.......

I never knew before I lived in Greece, 35 years ago that beetroots actually had leaves attached and maybe the best part of this vegetable. And my father from London whom was a Greengrocer - never sold the leaves just the bulb itself and really apart from a few Continental shops even around London today I still have only seen it sold as the roots/bulbs and not with the leaves and what a shame that is.........

So how to make this wonderful meal. This is healthy and a cleansing meal for your body.
Wash and top and bottom the beetroot bulbs

Put a large pan of boiling water and add vinegar and salt to stop the beetroot bleeding and this will help to hold it's colour.

Boil for around 40 minutes to almost al dente and then add the leaves (in Greek known as Horta) to roots in the pan.

Reduce heat and continue on a mild heat for around another 30 minutes.

Drain and separate leaves and roots.

Before too cold so at hand hot, peel beetroot and slice.  Add salt and pepper and vinegar.

With leaves drained add a lemon, oil sauce.

Place on a large platter, first the leaves and then the bulbs sliced and add your garlic sauce.

Serve with chips or maybe a potato salad, sliced bread and if cheating the feta cheese too........

And how to make garlic sauce.........see previous menu..........

Kalo Orexi from the village the evening........







Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Saturday Scribble

Saturday (Savvato in Greek) a day of rest for most and for me too - well at least for another 3 weeks before the summer arrives and we welcome our visitors for this summer 2016.......

Last night we had a good rainfall, much needed as I was getting slightly worried for this forthcoming season, its okay having a mild winter but we do need the rain to fill the wells and the wetlands here...... I am thinking visitors, gardens, fields with crops and forest fires........

However after the rain last evening,  I sat outside on the veranda and I saw my first fireflies of the year they were twinkling over the greenery, the locals say it means the Broad Beans and Artichokes are ready............ so summer is really just around the corner.  Not many, but they were there all strutting their stuff, a bit too quick for me to photograph but once there are a few more will endeavour to do so and share........In Corfu, the fireflies can be seen normally from April through May so unless you are an early visitor you will not experience this magnificent sight...........it's also very romantic....

So coffee consumed this morning Saturday and a slice of toast  we are off to Acharavi, a nearby resort around 20 kilometres away from our village here just turn left at the Sidari junction and continue past Roda and into Acharavi.   Acharavi is a well known holiday destination very cosmopolitan on the North Coast and is ideally located between Sidari and Kassiopi , however recently it is no longer just a holiday destination - it is a hub of activity all year round with many of the main Greek Supermarkets chains and the nearest bank for our area located there. The bank being open Monday - Friday - great as you now longer have to travel to the main town area of Corfu Town. We were there today in Acharavi to revisit our Wi-fi and telephone package, well that was quickly sorted with some lovely, helpful and professional ladies in the office and then back to Sidari for our weekly shop.

Back home and back on the patio I was admiring the wild flowers, known as Margaritas which seemed to have blossomed overnight (see photo) so had to pick a few of these for the hallway. We then had a visitor whom was explaining about his missing eggs and the outcome ...so here is today's story for you and anyone with chickens and missing eggs.... try it, it works (again see photo)........

Spiros our neighbour has just retired and now has time for his little garden area.  He thought he would buy a few chicks, which he did and had fattened them up and were ready to lay eggs, however every morning he hears them clucking but can't find the eggs........where are they?????

So over to my dear Greek mother in law, a sprightly lady of 89 years still working on her land down below the village in an area called Kookiniakades, with her own chickens. She had a few more in those earlier days when I first moved into our house here in the village and when we went to visit her in the valley had almost over 90, however nowadays has just as many as she needs for her own use. So I was telling her about the neighbour's problem and she advises me....tell him to place a large white pebble from the beach in the area around where they are roaming...... you must also remember here our chickens are really free range and just wander and eat and come back to their homes/pens at nightfall....... is the new name Farm Free or something?

Pebbles are easy to find down on Agios Stefanos beach, so with pebble in hand he plants the stone, and WOW can you believe it the following morning he find 4 eggs (well he has 4 chickens) and is so happy with our help offers us today's catch........

Fresh eggs, spring onions, celery - mmmmmmm I can see tonight's menu just maybe an omellete as we also have some spring onions, lettuce and rocket ready to harvest in the garden.........

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend..........




Friday, 8 April 2016

Friday Frappe and Fish......

Friday (Paraskevi in Greek) I awoke once again early as there was a wild wind whistling from down in the valley and into our garden or so it seemed. Quickly I ventured out in slippers and pajamas to collect the washing from the line as there was for sure rain heading our way.

The sky was no longer the deep clear blue of the previous days, it was looking grey and with a low cloud cover, the rain was just waiting to happen.

I call these Spring days, blip, blip rainy days - almost like one of those mild days in the UK Summer, back home when you plan a picnic and suddenly it all changes in a few blinks.

Now I normally start my day with a hot coffee in our cooler months of Winter and Spring but in fairness at 09.00 my application on the Android phone was showing a temperature in the shade of 19c so maybe I think it is time to move onto my summer morning coffee, a chilled iced coffee, known here as Frappe,  normally we drink iced coffee as the temperature gets warmer and a hot coffee just seems out of the question.  Frappe, made with Nescafe (I know this is a brand, but all Greeks seem to make coffee from this brand) I do find it quite bitter as the main brand here is Classic, and I do prefer Gold Blend, but we only have the original Classic available at the moment in the Coffee Jar in the kitchen at home.....

Frappe, Iced Coffee, was introduced to me back in 1981 when I arrived on holiday in the small resort (as it once was) of Sidari and Aris, whom I later married was working as a barman in one of the local bars near to were I was staying for my vacation..  Oh I thought I was so chic when returning back to London and introducing my family to this new way of consuming coffee. Really they were just not impressed and preferred their cup of tea or pot.  I had given up tea back in the early 70's when mum told me as I was now a teenager and I could have coffee instead - well I never looked back and don't think, apart from a holidays in India I have ever drunk tea since.  Of course all this was before the major Coffee Chains, now in abundance were around the UK.  I did so think I was hip and trendy with my Iced Coffee, however it went down at home in our household like a Lead Balloon - but how things change as now my mum loves a Freddaccino or a Iced latte etc.......

So how to  make a great Frappe - Iced Coffee......

In a large straight glass put coffee, sugar as required and just a small amount of water literally to cover the coffee ad sugar.......

Use your hand blender or coffee shaker (Jam Jars or similar make good shakers too).
Shake or blend to a frothy consistency.

In your glass add ice cubes and milk if required.

Add shaker or jam jar contents over the glass and top up with iced water.

Add straw and enjoy.

A local tip - if buying a large tin or Nescafe here in Greece and they are having special offers you get a whisker free (see photo).

So - 2 frappes later and still the rain hasn't arrived so its about time for a little stroll up to our village, of course as part of our daily exercise......

Our regular Kafenion (coffee shop) being Landos either for a coffee or lunchtime drinkees.......

Ah the fish man has arrived in his little white van, with his fresh fish and his weighing scales - well it is after all Friday and being Lent, fish is to be eaten in the Greek household and on menus today.  We buy some lovely fresh whitebait and he throws in free some extra for Bella, our cat, he seems to be getting to know us now.

And then the heavens open and the rain arrives...oh well lets have another little wine and wait for it to stop........

It does and we head home, fish is cooked, green salad prepared and just maybe we will light the log fire this evening as it now feels a bit cooler as the temperature has dropped to a mild 17c.

Bella enjoyed her fish too.



Happy Friday from the village.





Thursday, 7 April 2016

Thrills on a Thursday

Thursday (Bempti in Greek) is the 5th day of the week.  After several days of beautiful clear blue skies it was somewhat overcast today, however with only 25 days prior to a full on working summer season days like these can't be put ignored or put aside especially when at 11.00 it was shade temps of 21c........



OK lets take Yellow Peril my trusty old Fiat Panda from 2004 for a drive over to the resort.......

So leaving our village, Avliotes and towards Agios Sstefanos and through a few olive groves negotiating many potholes on B or are they C roads (no these are the main roads on the map) before we reached the headland of Gravia. This is a midway point between the 2 resorts of Agios Stefanos (many call San Stefanos) and Arillas........ Kostas, our dear friend at Gravia Taverna was busy making improvements and refreshing his taverna for Summer opening in May so we then dropped back down into Agios Stefanos to see some other friends Margarita and Chrysanthos at the Three W's cafe - I needed the loo by then and wanted to check my emails, so being an Internet Cafe we could cover both requirements.  Oh and I am now thirsty, dear hubby Aris what should we have to drink?  well a few wines were served, chilled, cold and white just as I like and we sat outside too as this bar is one of the few open pre main season........



It was lovely to see whilst sat there several Car Hire cars passing through, one actually stopped and a lovely Belgium family staying over in Ano Korakiana who fancied a venture over to our North West coast popped in and had a few beers too.........

So a few hours later and back in our little village house here in Avliotes we opened the door to be greeted by our loving cat Bella (See previous blogs) and her new kittens.  Almost 4 weeks ago she had her babies, today was the first days she 'allowed us to see them' now named Marley, the darker one and is a boy and the one that looks just like Bella herself  is Poppy. a girl. And yes we will be keeping both............

Well now it's almost 7.30pm and the sun is dropping with evening
temps only 19c so time to draw our curtains but I am in no way lighting the log fire this evening with such mild temps.  However we have cut logs ready for tomorrow as the past few days have been kind for April but if we can believe the weather forecast tomorrow, Friday will still be mild for the time of year but we should have cooler temps and expect rain and maybe a storm....

Night Night from the village.........