Thursday, August 27, 2009

Notes on wine making and shed building

And we watch the grapes ripen... under the olive nets!

Among other things the week has been (and still IS) FILLED with activity.

- Cooking is taking up time (made excellent Stafyli Gliko with my own little rose geranium twist - Thank you, Lulu at Mama's Taverna)
- Making BBQ sauce again today for the ribs.
- Still face more masses of figs.

And, yesterday I went to the doctor and had acupuncture on my knee - which totally worked!! Last night is the first time since March I have slept through the night without waking up at least three times saying, "Oww!" when I change positions. (A full nights sleep makes me a kinder and happier person, less likely to tear someones face off.)

Recipe for lemonade:

1 lemon (cut off ends and cut into eighths)
1/2 sugar (or splenda if you are on a diet like me)
1/2 cup water

Drop into blender and pulse til lemon is chopped fine but not too far gone
Strain into small pitcher.
Add 2 cups water.


Very good. Very healthy.


Meanwhile, in only two days, T. has recreated a shed that had seen better days.

As we store all sort of things in there (ie: lawnmower, chainsaw, assorted olive gathering bits, bicycle parts and the odd chair including paint and plant stuff, and God knows what else) it seemed that it was time it became a bit more weather-proof (and a little less shabby?) again.

So. TA-DA! He did it all by himself except for the one piece on the side that I had to help him pick up and then hold, while he secured it to the metal skeleton of the shed. (Yes. He IS amazing.) One thing I learned that I didn't know before: they now make screws that have a tiny drill bit tip, so you can screw them through the pressboard and into a metal frame. Cool.


On another note, Monday we went in search of a wine making guru. After a few stops at likely places with several bored shrugs by younger desk keepers, we found a cava on the Paleocastritsa road and a marvelous man named Andreas, a great older guy, who explained to us what we had to do. When he recognised how hopeless we were he said to come back again JUST before the harvest so he could run through the explanation one last time! He shook his head and said he'd sell us what we needed then. He didn't advise us spending a lot of money til we knew what we were doing and if we liked doing it!!

I took notes (but in the car after we were done). We will see how close we were at understanding what he said, when he explains it the second time...

As near as I can read from my notes:For RED wine-

- Cut grapes (not vine)
- Remove grapes from stalks and put in squishing place
- Mash - however- (probably with feet)
- add sulfite powder (test for sugar)
- Leave to rest the squished grapes and STIR 3# TIMES A DAY (very important!!!)
- Strain in muslin cloth (note: find muslin cloth!)
- Test for sugar content (? T and I remember this in a different place)
- Siphon into Carboys (DON'T FILL as gasses expand)
- After fizzing stops insert special cork top for carboy (find top)
- Let sit til it stops bubbling- don't move containers about.
- Siphon in October (beware sludge at the bottom!)
- Siphon in December (still sludge)
- Siphon in January. (avoid sludge)
- Put in bottles and cork.

I am really hoping that the grapes ripen, and this comes together nicely before T. leaves for the US, though the other night when we went to a lovely evening hosted by one of our new neighbors in their garden, I discovered that when I mentioned the possibility, of perhaps needing assistance, several neighbors volunteered and will gladly pitch in and help out!

So. Sadly I must end this post as I hear the laundry calling my name. (one load down, three to go!) Busy busy days...

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

August is speeding to a close

It is hot and dry this "Garden Isle" that is Corfu. And it's not reflecting its nickname so much. The ground is dry and parched and cracked open.

Though of course beneath the hot sun, things are rushing to ripen and bolt. My poor parsley and basil are no more.

Tomatoes, are ready to be made into paste and aubergines and courgettes are overwhelming their growers with abundance. I rarely plant either of them, since we've had neighbors, as everyone always plant too many and is stunned when they have enough to feed the multitudes! I am assured of an armful from anyone of three neighbors, whenever I wish.

Figs are ripening and ready to pick.

It will be an excellent harvest and everyone (close enough for me to deliver it to by hand!!) can count on getting a jar of orange-fig and ginger jam for Christmas!!

There are not too many birds attacking the figs or else it's because we have so many of the little devils this year their attacks are almost unnoticeable.

Mostly though T and I were filled with a surge of panic as we realized that his trip to the U.S. this year would be September 15, with a return on the 30th.

This means in less than a month, he's gone and it's very possible that the first harvest of grapes will be ready just AFTER he leaves (instead of just before!!)

Not that we planned on a huge harvest this year, but still...

I spent several hours online trying to research all that we'd need to know to make our first batch of wine, as we have some wine making things friends have given us, but I know we'll need to pick up a few other important things from the local cava.

The good news is that almost all the Greeks make their own wine, so we should be able to get what we need without too much trouble.

Everything may work out perfectly if the weather stays this hot and dry, the grapes will ripen before T leaves and we'll be able to "start" our first batch of mushed up grapes to ferment. The big deal will be whether or not they are ripe enough before he leaves, or if while he's gone I will spend the 15 days of his absence, picking grapes and fighting off the wasps on my own to make our first vintage.

Stay tuned!!
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lunch like a Tourist!

We almost never go out to lunch, even back when were WERE tourists! Mostly because when we first started coming to Corfu, it was winter time and most of the tourist places were all closed and it seemed there weren't too many places TO go to lunch anyway!

Well, now I know that there are many interesting places to eat lunch "like a local" on Corfu, and probably this winter I'll go and visit a few of those places again (and take pictures!).

For now though, T and I decided to be "like tourists" and go to one of my cousin Jeremy's favorite restaurants, The Molfetto Beach Bar/Restaurant (which we'd never been to!) in Gouvia, and sample the fare.

It's a pretty place right on the beach and it wasn't too busy (have to say: this year NOTHING'S been "too" busy...). The wait staff were charming and helpful, and the service was good. The prices were about standard for tourist spots.

I ordered a Greek Salad, while T ordered a Club Sandwich with french fries. (I saved room so I could have a scoop of Coffee Ice Cream!) with two draft beers and the tip, it came to just under 25 euros. It was pretty basic (but fresh and tasty) food. As it was a really hot day (almost 98 F!), I had wanted to sit near to the water and in the shade, to catch the breeze it was a perfect location.

It was a lovely place to have a meal and in spite of the heat we felt cool and refreshed. (of course after we finished, we had to get in the car! which was about 200 F!)

From all that Jeremy told us about the place, he and Melissa (both in their 20's) really enjoyed the wide variety of cocktails, the live music, sometimes dancing, and often "shows", in the evenings and the ginormous fish tank in the middle of the bar seating area. (of course I don't have a picture of that, so you have to click the link!) It sounds like a fun place to visit, but T and I were satisfied with our "tourist" foray into Lunch.

We've been enjoying this past several days "on vacation" at home... it's been strange but very enjoyable! Still today may end up being a more practical day. As it's a bit cloudy, I may see what is ready in the garden...
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Date night in Ipsos

So we live in a vacation paradise! I suppose on occasion we should take advantage of it all...

Dinner at Ipsos seemed like a good idea. We were looking for a good Chinese restaurant since our old one Chilies and Chopsticks seemly vanished from sight. (now it turns out they may have just moved... it's the "where" part we're still flummoxed by...)
Of course, because we live here we also have to combine the we need sheets and towels for my mother's visit and since there's a great sale going on at Bed and Bath., well, we had to take advantage of 50% off! [Needless to say, it's totally impractical that you buy ANY of the sheets offered at 50% off as they would blind you or at least make you think you'd been attacked by the strawberry people. (really horrid designs...)]

Still they had some lovely other sheets on sale for-naturally- a smaller percentage off, and so, they are under consideration.

We found out something really interesting and Greek-like: if you buy sheets there, you bring the size of your bed and they TAILOR the sheets for you! (No charge! you just have to wait a week while they send them to Athens...) So we're considering the purchase of sheets and a duvet cover for the bed my mother will be staying in when she comes in October. The only sheets I have that fit that bed are over thirty years old and not in terribly good shape. (Actually-sigh- MOST of my sheets are over thirty years old!)

So from there we drove on to Ipsos. As we drove in looking for the restaurant (The Peking House) we passed my favorite car rental agency on the island-- no not because I would ever rent a car from them, but because of their wonderful name!!! The Bambooza Car Hire company- I wonder if their motto is "car hire you can 'almost' trust"??.

Its name, unfortunately, to me sort of calls to mind either bamboozling which in American English means "to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; synonyms: gyp, dupe, trick, cheat, swindle", or else, drinking a lot and crashing.("boozer" or "booza"- the bam at the beginning, boding ill for the fate of the rental car!)

[Truly the company has been around for a long time and I understand from people who write on the Agni travel site that they are very reputable. It's only me, (well OK, T laughs too) who for years has gone past that sign and cracked up...]

Anyway, we had a lovely meal at the Peking House and really enjoyed being out and about with all the tourists.

For sure, the table couldn't have had a nicer view! It was also quite lovely and cool with the breeze off the sea. The best part was that, for our old and jaded hearing, the choice of music was excellent: Nora Jones, and the like made it kind of a nice bluesy background instead of the standard hard rock and just a 'little too loud' option in many places.

All in all an evening well spent.

(sorry for not having pictures of my Singapore noodles and Crispy Honey Chicken, or T's choice of Mu Shu Pork, but we were honestly so charmed by our environment, service and meal, that I forgot to click!)

By the time we finished dinner it was dark and the Ipsos strip was lit up and starting to belong to the " night life people"!

We still had a good time an a little walk along the sea before we went home to the dog. (sadly for the dog, there were no leftovers.)

I really hope we get another chance to go to the Peking House before they close for the season!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Slow day in August

The day started slowly and never really picked up any speed.

Just spent the day puttering about playing with the dog, and being ignored by the cats.

Sitting on the terrace in the shade, talking with T, catching up on things in the news and ideas about travel and people we know. A lovely way to pass a couple of hours.

Ate a little lunch, then took a little nap. Woke up and read a little of my book [currently re-reading John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley...]

Went for a walk with the dog in the afternoon, then went for a swim.

Watched some television (videotaped comedy shows) then during the second one, I got up and fixed supper

I made a pan of fluffy white basmati rice and to go with it, a shrimp and veggie stir-fry.

I just cut up the leftover fresh veggies from the fridge: courgette, red onion, baby carrots, a few green beans. a yellow pepper, some fresh garlic and some fresh grated ginger, stir fried in a little fragrant sesame oil. Stir fried the shrimp and tossed the whole mess together with a little sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a splash of soya sauce.

For dessert a scoop of vanilla ice cream with maple syrup on top. Lovely.

After that we went outside to see the sunset and talked a bit more. Then turned out the lights and T went to read his book in bed and I'm writing up this post. Not much news to write about!

A slow day, but a really excellent one!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacations are for other people

We're having a wonderful time at home!

We had a visitor this morning.

He was waiting at the kitchen door. The cats brought him. (Yes. My idiot Buddhist cats...) They may have "thought" about eating him, but it was such a fleeting wisp of a thought, it passed quickly though their tiny minds.

My dear T, graciously scooped him up and moved him to the grass, so I could come outside without troubling him (or spilling my tea when I jumped up to stand on the chair.) One does become, generally speaking, accepting of the wildlife that we share this place with, but at times it's a rather discomforting acceptance on both sides.

(Vipers, for instance, are NOT welcome. Mice we are slightly intolerant of in the house. Outside, they are fine. Spiders and mosquitoes are annoying but obviously too numerous to eliminate. Wasps, millipedes, and scorpions, that find their way into the house, are generally, promptly (and relentlessly!) dealt with.)

I think it's good that there's something annoying and "dangerous" to balance out our Paradise.


As we've been on "vacation" with houseguests for most of the summer, today seems a good time to get to a few those little annoying things that I should have gotten around to earlier in the summer out of the way.

So yes, I cleaned out the freezer, to make way for new arrivals from the garden. AND I have been going through my backlog of blog readings, as well as clearing out my email files (I always forget to empty the spam folder... and of course I always find something IN the spam folder that shouldn't be there...).

T went to play golf this afternoon so I took the dog for her walk. Nothing reminds you more that you are in Greece but the August afternoons.

The dry ground, the sound of the cicadas, the hot sun and the surprising cool of the shade, but it's also about the smell. The dry grasses and the wild thyme and oregano are fragrant with the smell of August in Greece.

It's not at all difficult to remind myself that people come to visit us - not only because we're nice people, but because we are lucky enough to live in an absolutely gorgeous place. And sometimes, I think it's really nice to take a vacation and just stay home!

As this is a holiday weekend in Greece, and tomorrow is the Assumption -of the Mother of Jesus into heaven- not "a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts" - and everything- everywhere- will be closed more tightly than usual.

To the Greeks this holiday is right up there with Easter or Christmas. There will be parades, and music and fireworks. All in all a good time will be had by all. Sadly we will NOT being going into town for the celebrations. For me crowds of celebrants are not vacation-like. I am very glad they are having a nice time and I remember being with friends and having an absolutely wonderful time in town.

It just doesn't sound very appealing any more.

THIS does. All empty and quiet except for screeching birds, weird insects and the odd lizard. And I don't even mind taking the dog for a walk! (Though next time I will probably wear long pants, as the nettles and other scratchy plants were eager to leave their mark!)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To The Lifeboats!

from Summer Solstice

The white sheet of paper, harsh mirror,
gives back only what you were.

The white sheet talks with your voice,
your very own,
not the voice you'd like to have;
your music is life,
the life you wasted.
If you want to, you can regain it:
concentrate on this blank object
that throws you back
to where you started.

You traveled, saw many moons, many suns,
touched dead and living,
felt the pain young men know,
the wailing of women,
a boy's bitterness -
what you've felt will fall away to nothing
unless you commit yourself to this void.
Maybe you'll find there what you thought was lost:
youth's burgeoning, the justified shipwreck of age.

Your life is what you gave,
this void is what you gave:
the white sheet of paper

George Seferis

Complete Poems: translated and introduced by

Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Greek poet, essayist, and diplomat who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in
1963. Seferis is considered to be the most distinguished Greek poet of the pre-war generation of the 1930s. In his work Seferis combined the language of everyday speech with traditional poetic forms and rhythms. Seferis spent much of his life outside Greece in diplomatic service. Recurrent theme in his poetry is exile and nostalgia for the Mediterranean and his birthplace, [Izmir] Smyrna.


The "justified shipwreck of age" seems to have stopped here in Corfu. And I feel like I'm buffeted by the winds of fate. Where oh where, did I put "the voice" I'd like to have???

MY dear T is dealing with the aftermath of a car accident that happened on Friday. Everyone is fine. (As T said, "It's a good day when you can say, I didn't die and I didn't kill anyone...")

The accident involved a motorcycle and our stationary little car- but for the damage to our car (broken tie rod and three days of a rental car at exorbitant high season rates) it would seem that everything is fine. As T's car was coming out of a parking lot into the main road, even though the motorcycle hit our car- T is "at fault". It's especially galling as the motorcycle turned in towards the car to hit him.

Our insurance agent said that of all accidents that happen in Corfu, the majority - more than the whole rest of the year- happen the first 15 days of August. That should tell you something. When T asked the agent what could he have possibly done to avoid the accident, the agent shrugged and said that HE makes NO left hand turns the month of August, and he sends his family elsewhere on vacation.

The first person the motorcyclist called was his lawyer, then his parents and his girlfriend. The police tactfully did not fine him for not wearing a helmet. (Yes, it could have been horrifically a lot worse.) Due to what looked like the remains of a previous accident- he was missing a mirror and had a scrape on the other side of his motorcycle, I am guessing he will try for a replacement from the insurance company. T will be visiting our lawyer tomorrow to confirm that when our insurance company refuses to fall for that, he will protect us from any other attacks.


All this is happening on top of the regular insanity plans that we are coordinating with our son in Chicago to book his grandmother's flight from New Mexico to Corfu--- so we could then arrange our travel lives around that....

(why? you may ask is our son in Chicago doing all this? You would have to know my 84 year old mother for a better understanding of the answer. My mother's first choice of travel arranger was T... As T is almost as helpless online as she is, she feels he best understands her frustrations with travel booking now-a-days.)

The silver lining in that whole ball of mess, is that Bright Son (the middle child is SUCH a good organizer) has a marvelous travel agent who did all the work! So, Ta-DA! We have an itinerary and -as of two hours ago- it has been deemed acceptable by 84 yr old mother.

So T has now made plans for returning to the States to visit with his gi-normous and loving family of brothers and sisters (he's the youngest of 6!) as well as visiting our sons and grandsons for 15 days in September. He has carefully planned his trip so he will arrive in Athens the same day - and only mere hours before my mother arrives for a month long visit. (he better not have a delay!)

During my mother's visit, we plan on taking a "long weekend" to fly to Brussels so my mother can visit her sister and brother in law, and nephew and family. (her last visit to Brussels was two years ago, when we three DROVE from Corfu to Belgium! OK, hairsplitters, we took a ferry to Venice and drove from there. Shame I wasn't writing a blog then, such a madcap adventure into insanity.)

As with each visit of my mothers , there are many sighs and long looks into the distance with the remark "It will probably be the last time we see each other..."

We are all going together for that visit. (Yet to pin down: exact timing of Brussels trip! and tickets of course. the good news is that the "season" charter flights direct Corfu-Brussels/return are still flying. That service ends the last week of October.)

Last but not least, tentative plans are in motion for me to fly back to Athens the same day as my mother. When she leaves, in October, I fly with her and can get her established and checked in to go for her flight back to the US, (she's flying wheelchair assisted). Then, I can board a flight of my own to fly me to Chicago to visit the sons and loves of sons and grandchildren who didn't visit this summer (as well as the one who did!) This may involve a visit to South Carolina to visit favorite precious granddaughter in University of SC.

As I haven't been back to the US for a couple of years, it sounds sort of nice to just visit with the family for a while.

Basically we are going to be a bunch of jet setting old people from about September 15th til November 15th. (Why am I filled with trepidation???)

After my return, we will no doubt need to live like church mice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Old Corfu- Kerkira- Old Photos

Today is a special Corfu holiday- Saint Spirdon's Deliverance of the island from the Turks...

The Holy Relics of the Saint go out on parade to commemorate the occasions when he saved the island from various disasters - deliverances interpreted as miraculous interventions by the Saint. As a result, he is considered to be the island's Protector, and his miracles are celebrated with four annual processions

- The first takes place on Palm Sunday and commemorates the deliverance of the island in 1630 from a deadly plague. The relics of the Saint pass through the streets accompanied by all the island's philharmonic bands. The procession sets out from the Saint's own church at 11 in the morning and follows the line of the old town walls, from where the Saint drove out the disease.
- The second and oldest procession was established in 1550 in thanks for the relief of the island from famine. This procession traditionally takes place on Easter Saturday starting at 9 in the morning.
- The third commemorates the Saint's intervention in saving the island from plague a second time (1673) and is held on the first Sunday in November.
- On August 11 the fourth procession takes place, in memory of the deliverance of the island from the Turks after the month-long siege of 1716.


and on another note....


Hair Raising/Child Raising

Hmm. Just finished reading a flurry of articles regarding the sixy-seven year old British woman who decided to have a baby. Of course one does think of the child, then again, you can't really ignore this woman's incredible focus and drive.

First of all, this woman is NOT typical. And not just in her desire to have a child at an age wherein most women welcome grandchildren! She owns and runs a fairly large business. She's wealthy enough to afford multiple dwellings. She's physically fit, eats well and doesn't smoke. Yes she's divorced and without family. We must mention again the word "wealthy" as it can be applied in many circumstances.


At first of course, I went through the "walk in my shoes" moment and thought, there's NO WAY in a MILLION years I'd have a baby at 67. The crying and mess, the joy and fatigue, the sheer amount of TIME it takes to be there for every "first" of that human- baby, then pre-schooler, then kindergartner, then elementary student, middle school student, high school student, drivers training, college student.... The daunting thought of PTA involvement and play days, and doctors appointments, dentist appointments, orthodontists, sports lessons, sports games, parent-teacher conferences, school plays, concerts, music lessons, dance classes, and the long indentured servitude to the fund raising branch of the private school...

Then there's the fact that all your friends are made during the school year because of the children you all had in common. The sad fact also, that sometimes you liked your childrens friends more than you liked your own children!

I wonder if we all
don't, secretly, just want her to experience the torments of child rearing along with the blessings!!

All these thoughts though, are because I had my three babies when I was in my early 20's. My husband and I were poor. True, we had "potential", but literally NO MONEY. We were healthy, because we were raised well, and educated properly. On the down side, I had to learn to cook so we ate 'interesting' meals for years.


This woman will experience NOTHING of what I experienced. Her staff will experience it all and she won't miss out in the knowing, because she won't know, and she won't care that she won't know! She will be there for the important things. She wanted a baby for a long time, so I am guessing she WILL know how to love the child. Ultimately that's really all that matters.

In purest essence, the relationship she will have with her child will be exactly the same relationship she would have had with her "grandchild". And she will experience the same wonderful relationship in all probability the best of all possible "grandparent" relationships. She has the finacial freedom to opt into or out of any of the myriad of details regarding the whole child rearing thing-a-ma-bob.


A long time ago, in a moment of panicked confusion over something one of my children was doing- I remember reading something about parenting. The gist of the article was that each of your children turn out differently because you are different at the point each child is born. In effect: each child is born to a different set of parents than his sibling. As individuals you are different from who you were before the birth of the previous child, your marriage is in a different place, your economics are different, sometimes your dwelling is different. All three of my children could be from different families, (or different planets!) they are so different from eachother.

As for the "being there" part of child rearing? Many of us (NOT all!!) abandon our parents in our 20's and 30's and 40's, and except for helpful financial handouts or babysitting duties we really don't relate to them until our children are on the point of leaving home. Their "sage words of advice" are often irritating and yes, - truth told- ignored.

The accusations of the "ego trip"part of having a child so late in life are, I must say, the most flimsy. Whilst going through the active hands on process of child rearing for the better part of 23 years, I can't tell you how many parents who were my age acted like their child was their own personal super-ego, whether in sports or academics. (even now after being a parent for 40 years, I have to say I still hear the puffed up pride in the "my boy" stories from friends and acquaintances... ego is as ego does.)

And for "being there" for the important events of a child's life?? My father died of a sudden heart attack when I was 10 years old. Life makes no guarantees to anyone.


I do remember tho that I was gutted when my grandfather died when I was 17. I was sad I couldn't be with my grandmother when she died in her 90's - but I was glad she'd got on an airplane for the first time in her life when she was 80 to come and meet her new baby great grandson! My grandmother always made me feel like she'd do anything for me.


Well I have thought about it, and in some ways this wonderful British woman's fullfilled every potential grandmother's dream. She gets to have the grandchild without the son or daughter-in-law to mess up the relationship.

All in all, not too shabby.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Old Joke

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, 'Socrates, do you
know what I just heard about one of your students?'

'Wait a moment,' Socrates replied. 'Before you tell me I'd like you to pass
a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test.'

'Triple filter?' asked the acquaintance.

'That's right,' Socrates continued. 'Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?'

'No,' the man said, 'actually I just heard about it.'

'All right,' said Socrates. 'So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?'

'No, on the contrary ....'.

'So,' Socrates continued, 'you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you're not certain it's true?'.

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued..' You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?'

'No, not really...'

'Well,' concluded Socrates, 'if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?'

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

It also explains why he never found out that Plato, one of his students, was having an affair with his wife.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

As we contemplate the rest of the summer...

We find ourselves, now that we've stepped off the merry-go-round of entertaining friends and family, (for a while anyway)our same old boring selves, shuffling about the house, forgetting where we've left our reading glasses, napping in the afternoon.

Ah, what bliss!

As I opened my emails, I notice that sent me a little blurb on "Darby and Joan"- I can't help but resonate with the serendipitous epiphany- at least, today, we both feel much older than we felt at the beginning of the summer!! (we ARE in our 41st year of marriage... GAWD!)


"Old Darby, with Joan by his side,
You've often regarded with wonder:
He's dropsical, she is sore-eyed,
Yet they're never happy asunder ..."

In 1735 Henry Woodfall, a printer's apprentice, wrote a ballad titled "The joys of love never forgot: a song" about a happily married elderly couple. His inspiration for those characters was his own boss John Darby and his wife Joan. As you can imagine, he wrote this poem after Darby's death. This poem in turn became an inspiration for follow-up poems and eventually Darby and Joan became a metaphor."



Saturday, August 8, 2009

A nice finish for the cousins...

Last night was the end of our "summer of hosting" and we decided to go out in style. We took Jenny and Benoit to one of our favorite restaurants, Il Giardino. It's considered to be one of the best places to eat on Corfu, (but unfortunately has a very "modest" internet presence!) The cuisine is definitely Italian, but not the spagetti/pizza type of Italian, at all!

We arrived 'early', which is to say 8:30 pm, and they were just finishing the set ups on the tables. (As we left around 11 pm, groups were arriving for their dinner!!)

We had a wonderful silly evening and ate marvelous food and washed it all down with delicious wine.

The restaurant is located just across the street from the entrance to the Archaeological Museum of Corfu. It has a rather unprepossessing narrow front, and the interior is simple, tasteful, and not very large (where you eat in the wintertime). The real attraction is the garden in the back, open in the summer, which is enclosed by the surrounding buildings and quite lovely. The restaurant is open all year round (but NOT the garden) and the service is always superior.

The prices DO reflect the great service and excellent cooking. I believe the rating system of their internet link is a bit out of date as with drinks and wine- a starter, main dish and dessert can more realistically run you 45-50+ euros/person. It's IS possible to eat for less there, but you'd feel cheated if you couldn't at least imagine you could order what you wanted!

We ordered specialites of the house (my favorite standby: the Il Giardino Salad with Brie cheese and pears and a lovely vinaigrette)

T had the always delightful paper thin Proscutto with melon, and Benoit chose the fresh Mozzerella with fresh tomatoes.

Jenny decided to try the Baby Marrows with Parmesan and they were delicious!

For the main course, Jenny had a tagliatelli tossed with marscapone, ham, and Parmesan creamy sauce. Benoit had a lovely rosy Penne with tomatoes and vegetables.

I decided on a take off of the "fresh", off the menu, serving of the day and went with a linguini with mussels and baby clams in a white wine and garlic sauce. It was as delicious to savor, as beautiful to look at!

T had a medium-rare, fillet with a wonderful balsamic sauce.

To wrap things up, since T had the dessert honors last evening (with the flaming Crepe!) I splurged on dessert and had the homemade Gujarat chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts - Benoit had the panacotta with blackberry sauce.

(Sadly, it was so good we all gobbled it up before I could take a picture!!)

We finished up the meal with cups of espresso and cappuccino, and fortunately, as T had to park at a bit of a distance, had a gentle slow promenade by the sea to get back to the car.
I know a good time was had by all; I was there too!

This morning T took them to the airport for their flight home to Brussels. The charter flight might be a little bit of a hassle, but I know they went home with great memories of a lovely vacation with us.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Dinner in Old Town Corfu and the Achillion

Next to the lovely Church of San Nicolas dei Vecchi (with its 17th century murals) in the charming heart of Corfu Town, lies one of my favorite restaurants: Christa's Creperie. I think I love it as much for the ambiance as for the delicious food. It's such a romantic place.

In the summer you sit on the steps of the street on small tables (it isn't really a road but more a gradual climb on wide two meter deep steps) and in the winter time you sit in the cozy warmth of the interior... The food is marvelous. Luscious fat crepes stuffed with fresh ingredients and wonderful French sauces - yum.

It's been in business since 1980 and the owners know what people like. It's open all year round and in the summertime it's a favorite with locals as well as tourists for both lunch and dinner. (in the off-season, it's only open for dinner...)

They serve 52 different savory crepes and a wonderful selection of sweet crepes IF you have room for dessert!

[Benoit, for instance, ordered a Marango with shrimp and wine sauce]

Of course if you pace yourself you can have room for at least a taste of dessert! While Jenny and Benoit opted for the Fresh Fruit Stuffed Crepe with Creme Fraiche...

T,. bless him, ordered the flaming Grand Marnier Crepe with ice cream ... (I made him share it with me! It was great!!)

As for the rest of the evening, we had a marvelous time although the drawback of the month of August in Corfu is that there's no where to park. Poor T had to use all his cunning to find a spot, which unfortunately was still at some distance from the restaurant meaning that Jenny and I were forced to window shop as we meandered to the meeting point in San Rocco Square. We arrived with seconds to spare as the car came around the corner to swoop us up, so all's well that ends well. (except Jenny is forcing Benoit to go shopping this morning, now that the stores are OPEN.)


On another note, I am including a little selection of Jenny and Benoit's visit to the Achillion, another nice (if expensive-7 euro!) place to visit on the island.

This lovely palace was built in 1880, for Elizabeth, Empress of Austria (Sissy). It was claimed that it was the only place she felt she could be herself. It was her summer retreat, and there are paintings and other memorabilia of her in the Palace.

She was tragically assassinated in Geneva in 1898.

In 1907, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany bought it. On the coast there is a bridge and jetty he built for his own personal access to his yacht and for his swimming trips. The bridge was mostly destroyed during the second world war to facilitate the Axis powers control of the island.

The lavish gardens are filled with statues depicting the heroic and tragic scenes of the Trojan War.

There are two quite special and famous bronze statues of the hero Achilles in the garden.

The hero Achilles, was the central theme Elizabeth had in mind behind the whole construction of her palace and the gardens. It was her tribute to platonic romanticism, and she named the entire palace after Achilles: Achillion (Αχίλλειον).

Gastouri is a charming little village that surrounds the palace with the standard narrow roads of Corfu villages. In the summer the road through the village is normally one way only.

"In Greek mythology, Achilles (Ancient Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς) was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.

Achilles also has the attributes of being the most handsome of the heroes assembled against Troy.

Later legends (beginning with a poem by Statius in the first century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Legend states that Achilles was semi-immortal, however his heel was vulnerable. Since he died due to a poisoned arrow shot into his heel, the "Achilles' heel" has come to mean a person's principal weakness."

The 12th James Bond spy film "For Your Eyes Only" used the Achillion for filming the casino scene.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another hopeful attempt at Diving: update- Success!

After our last dispiriting experience of finding a good diving place, we opted this time to use the tools Greeks have used for centuries... friends of friends. So we contacted our 'lo-ong time living on Corfu' friend and he contacted his Greek friend and so now we think we have found a good divemaster.

[Picture to the right of man standing is divemaster from hell- avoid him.]

Plus, I believe I now know what may have happened to make for the "world's worst and longest day doing nothing with a short late and disappointing diving experience".

In the Rough Guide to Corfu and the Ionian Islands (1997), there is an interesting entry on Nissaki: "Nissaki is more a vague area than a place: three excellent pebble beaches, one dominated by the gigantic and rather soulless Nissaki Beach Hotel... " (aka Krouzeri Beach) blah-blah-blah... and slight referral to the other two, the last being Kaminaki Beach. It was one of of course the "original" Nissaki beach, that now has a brand new diving "school" where of course we went, and so that must have been how we were suckered into our mistake. No mention of course was made that there is ANOTHER diving school that meets at A Nissaki beach. (hahhahahhaha, joke's on us! so amusing. not.)

Anyway, Costas will pick up Benoit from the beach in front of the Nissaki Beach Hotel (which is "close" to the other beach by about 2 miles???) it is actually named "Krouzeri Beach" tho it's part of the area of Nissaki. From there, they will go to a different dive site (as Costas is familiar with the other "divemaster" and where he takes his people...)

More to follow on this post!


And they return! Needless to say, there actually IS good diving on Corfu. Mr Costas Revis established his business in 1977 and knows what he's doing.

The Waterhoppers Diving Centre is the place to count on. The safety levels are high, the number of instructors is more than adequete and they do what they say they're going to do - ON TIME and with a smile. They have a wide variety of types of dives and they can arrange something for whatever skill level you need. The centre is PADI, ANDI, CMAS and NITROX - TRIMAX certified.

But most of all ... a good time was had by all! Benoit went down 40 meters and saw a great wreck with lots of soft coral and little beasties around it. He was most pleased. (and T said that the whole deal was 5 euro cheaper than the "divemaster from hell".)

[Costas is the guy in the center -hard to make out- he's driving the boat.]
The trick is to drive the curvy road and when you see the sign for the Nisaki Beach Hotel (which appears suddenly after a lot of curvy road and then sort of seems to go down the side of a very steep "cliff") It's THAT Nissaki Beach.

There's also a very nice and shady taverna for those 'who sit and wait'...

For others interested, there are dive boats that will pick you up in Ipsos as well as a completely other location of the company in Paleocastritsa to see the cave diving on that side of the island.

Tonite we're going to my favorite restaurant- Christa's Creperie. More tomorrow!


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