Here we are into the third week of September and we are in a reflective mood! The summer seemed as if it ended on 1st September! We have had storms, downpours and heaven knows what since then.
So why are we in a reflective mood. you may ask. I will explain.
This has been a very busy summer for us. Not only have we had a succession of old friends visiting the island from quite early on but we have had visits from all of our children, their respective husbands and wives and all of our grandchildren. The last of our friends who have visited, Chris and Bryan, return to the UK late on 10th September.
Before we go any further, we should mention some exciting news! Firstly, David and Shelley have announced that Shelley is expecting their first baby in February 2015. We are very excited for them. As they are also attempting to buy a house as well as sell their flat, they are going to have their hands full!
Our eldest granddaughter, Lauren, has started a course at Peterborough College which will open up so many possibilities for her whether she decides to apply for a university place at the end of the course or work full time. We were very pleased to hear that she now has a part-time job as well. Someone else is going to be very busy!
Ryan has now started senior school and Maggie has started full time ‘infant’s’ school. Corinna won’t know what to do with herself!
Getting back to our summer, we made an executive decision that this year, we were going to abandon the vegetable plot apart from a few tomatoes. Instead, we have concentrated on our land and olive trees. We have had so much wet weather that the grass has never stopped growing which has meant that an awful lot of strimming has taken place. I can see that it will need doing again before winter. Ho hum! We have had several, but not all of our olive trees cut back.
Although Tricia was quite upset at the severity of some of the trimming, we have become used to it and if we are honest, the trees will benefit from it. We also should not need to buy any firewood this winter.
We feel that for once, we have not neglected our friends and family during their visits. We have also done a few things that we have not done for years. A couple of highlights were a trip on a boat with David and Eda where we had the opportunity to photograph the coastline – something we haven’t done for a long time. We also had a meal at the newly refurbished Glyfa Taverna. That was very nice.
Tricia and I took a day trip to Messonghi. The dogs were not over impressed as they had a day in the pens! Sometimes I like to think that when I get behind a camera I am artistic but the truth is that as far as real art goes, I can’t even draw a straight line with the aid of a straight edge! On Thursday, 17 July , Tricia and I met somebody who most definitely has artistic talent, Olga Stavrou. Her shop is full of her own artwork. As she says, she loves to create unique pieces of art on different surfaces such as canvas, paper, wood, glass, metal, stones, vinyl, candles and whatever she has found. We were amazed at her prices! We thought them very reasonable and there were items to suit all budgets.
We had been looking for something to go on the chimney breast in our lounge. Finally we found something. A unique original oil painting on seasoned olive wood. We love it. We also bought a hand painted lantern which will adorn our outside table.
Olga has a website and Facebook page. You can find them at: www.facebook.com/olga.stavrou.5?fref=ts and http://www.olgastavrou.com.
From there, we drove through the semi-deserted village of Korakades to Petriti and on to Boukari for lunch.
Everyone has their own favourite tavernas in Boukari. We have two favourite fish tavernas there, Spiros Karidis and The Kalami Fish Taverna. Decision, decisions! Spiros Karidis won on account of the fact that the last time we were in Boukari, we ate at the Kalami Fish Taverna!
We started off with white taramasalata and samphire (a first for us) followed by Glossa and half a kilo of local prawns. As always, everything was cooked to perfection. Outstanding food and highly recommended! Life doesn’t get much better!
We were knackered when we arrived home!
We had a lot of work to do before Corinna, Dave and the kids arrived. The weather was quite hot which didn’t help. On Sunday 27th July we went for lunch at Gabriel’s Steps in Old Peritheia. It was the day that there are religious parades all around the deserted village to commemorate the survival of a number of children from an outbreak of diphtheria in the 1800s. It was very busy as many had stopped off to eat after the parade.
That evening, Tricia and I visited Loutses Panigiri. It was as busy as ever and needless to say, I took a lot of photos.
On Monday, 28th July, we awoke to a heavy downpour followed by a thunderstorm! It rained intermittently all day. Tricia realised that she had left five mats from the apartment outside in the rain! To say that she was not a happy bunny was an understatement!
On Tuesday, 29th July I undertook a last minute shop to Jumbo and Lidl in Corfu Town whilst Tricia finished the great tidy up! The weather was much nicer than it had been the previous day. I returned home to find Tricia still had much to do but at least she was happy that my undertaking the shopping alone had given her an extra day to prepare. There was still the next day!
We decided to get a quick dinner at the Grill room so that no cooking was involved. It also gave us an excuse to pick up some more towels from local shops as I had failed to find any in the morning!
We had a nice dinner at Filarakia Grill Room but we returned home to discover that Bella had disgraced herself … No! Not how you think!
We had given the dogs a washing up bowl for their water as they were going through it at a great rate due to the heat. This had proven successful … until now. We had totally forgotten Bella’s antics with the water bowls in the dog pens when we left her there. We returned to find that she had tipped the entire bowl over. It took Tricia an hour to mop it up. We have absolutely no idea how much went under the kitchen cabinets. Talk about a naughty child!
Wednesday, 30th July arrived and we were still engaged in a final panic involving tables, fixing outside lamps and vacuum cleaning when the bloody power went! Nice day for it though! We were, not to put too fine a point on it, temporarily stuffed!
The power eventually came back and we returned to panic mode!
That evening we had a horrendous storm accompanied by lots of rain. The only good thing about it was that I didn’t have to water the tomatoes! We could not believe it. With Corinna and family due to arrive the next day, we were none too happy.
Thursday, 31st July arrived and we were as ready as we were ever going to be. Thankfully, the weather had improved by the afternoon.
Corinna, Dave and the kids arrived on time and in good spirits probably aided by a good flight time. Corinna and Dave had hired a mini bus for their holiday. I think that they should drop the ‘mini’ part as it was a nine seater Citroen. The thinking was that we could all get in. I liked that idea very much as it would save Dad some driving. That sounded good to me!
After everyone had unpacked, we went for dinner at Gelati’s as is traditional on the first day of their holiday.
Friday, 1st August was Corinna & Co’s first day here and so they had an easy day. Dinner was spent at home.
Tricia and I presented Ryan with a camera for doing well in his ‘SATs’ as we had previously done much the same for Lauren and Rebecca. Ryan had been hinting to his mum that he would like a camera, and after seeing him taking photos with his mobile phone when I took him to York, we thought that he might get some fun out of it. It seemed hard to believe that he would be starting Secondary school this month.
Monday, 4th August saw Corinna, Dave and the kids setting off for the Hydropolis Water Park in Acharavi. This was deemed too energetic for the aging grandparents who stayed at home!
They returned after a day’s fun where Maggie apparently didn’t stop laughing all day. The only downside was that despite Corinna’s best efforts, there were a few complaints of mild sun burn, not to mention blisters on their hands and feet! They all enjoyed the day though and three out of four grandchildren wanted a return visit!
We had dinner at Skondros Taverna that evening where Tricia, Corinna and I declared that the fillet steaks were first class.
On Tuesday, 5th August, as we expected, everyone was exhausted after the exertions of the previous day! Dinner was spent at home and Corinna made some outstanding pizzas which went down very well! Everything was made from scratch. Tricia and I both like pizza but we never seem to have it. This may change now!
We were in the middle of our after dinner drinks when Corinna let out a scream! She is very nervous about most things that fly or buzz. Imagine the effect of being ‘buzzed’ by what turned out to be a long horned beetle. Having calmed her nerves with a Southern Comfort, Corinna watched on as Tricia, Ryan, Rebecca and myself set about photographing the creature from just about every angle!
That was the evening’s entertainment!
Tricia and I went shopping on Wednesday, 6th August and returned to find that Corinna, Dave and the kids had gone out. We had no idea where, other than there had been some discussion about going for a drive. It turned out that they had taken the coast road and having reached Tzavros, they decided that they might as well go into Corfu Town. BIG mistake!
The car parks were full and Corinna got lost! She ended up in the middle of Corfu Town where she had difficulty maneuvering the minibus. It appears that she may have had something of a contretemps with a display of shoes! She has suffered some serious ‘ribbing’ ever since!
That evening, we went out to dinner at ‘Roxanne’s’ in Roda. Lauren had remembered having a good kleftiko there and wanted to go. As they also do a 500 gram sirloin steak, there were no arguments from me! To be honest, the meal was okay but we felt that there were definite signs of cutting back. Corinna and I both had the large sirloin steaks and they were perfect.
The only downside of the day was that the skies had been quite dull for much of the day and the winds had been very high. In a way, it was fortunate that the family had chosen this day to go into town … if you disregard Corinna’s escapade with the shoe display!
On Thursday, 7th August we went for an early dinner at Gelati’s in preparation for the Varkarola in Agios Spiridon. This was something that Tricia and I had never attended before and which we were keen to see. The kids were really only interested in the fireworks which, in true Greek fashion were set off about an hour late! The Varkarola was very good. I guess we would describe it as a bit like a Panigiri on the beach with fireworks!
To round off the evening we had ice creams at ‘Ice Dream’. Not a bad way to end the day!
Friday, 8th August saw me attending to one of our least favourite tasks. I went to the accountant to check out our property tax as well as to do a little shopping for the evening’s BBQ
What a surprise! The property tax is less than last year! It’s a bit like Council tax in the UK but this is payable directly to the government and we get very little in return! Again, typically Greek, I was advised not to pay it immediately as there was a chance it may be reduced. As it was, the deadline for the first installment had been extended from 31st August to the 30th September!
Saturday, 9th August was a lovely sunny day. In the evening we went out to dinner at Skondros Taverna in Acharavi. We have always had good meals there and as a beachside taverna, it is as good as any in the area. However, things were different this time. The food was as good as ever but ….. I will let Tricia explain …
“We had a good meal out spoilt only by a table of six British people next to us of which five were smokers. If we had known just how prolific their cigarette intake would be, we would have asked to change tables at the start. By the time we realised, we had started eating and didn’t want to cause a scene in front of the children.
This taverna isn’t one that is completely open on all sides in the summer. The door and windows were open but the smokers were in the middle of the eating area.
We are tolerant towards smokers if we’re sitting in a taverna which, to all intents and purposes, may as well be outside. That’s part of summer here. This wasn’t one of those places.
We suffered in silence as we didn’t want to make a fuss and totally spoil the evening but as we were leaving, I decided to have a quiet word with the boss. I told him the meal was lovely but the smokers weren’t. His answer was, ‘Well, they live here and always ask for an ashtray. This is Greece.’
If he knows that then why not at least sit them by a window!
I also live here. Don’t I have rights too?
If I’m with people who smoke then I don’t mind the odd cigarette wafting my way. This table must have smoked at least 40 to 50 cigarettes or more between them during the course of the evening and that is without exaggeration.
All I’m saying is that firstly, they wouldn’t have dreamt of doing that in a restaurant in the UK. They would have gone outside. Secondly, have the good manners to either have a table outside or at least ask for a table near the window – please!”
So there you have it! Tricia’s account is a slightly edited version of a post that she put up on Facebook. It wasn’t a smokers versus non-smokers debate and I am pleased to say that she received a lot of support.
As Tricia pointed out elsewhere, the “This is Greece” comment becomes a little wearing on occasions.
Corinna Dave and the kids went to the waterpark on Monday, 11th August. Tricia and I were left to go into Kassiopi to book a boat trip into Corfu Town. We had an excellent lunch in a grill room close to the harbour. To my shame. the name escapes me but it was very good and the food was up to the standard we expect from grill rooms.
That evening we were undecided where to go for dinner and so it was decided to go to the road along the seafront at Acharavi and pick somewhere that we hadn’t been to before. The Navigators, was the unanimous choice. It is very large and if I am honest has no atmosphere. The food was not bad considering how many they were catering for. The menu was large and there was definitely something for everyone. We came away pleasantly surprised.
Wednesday, 13th August was the day of our planned boat trip to Corfu Town. The first, and most serious, thing that went wrong was that Dave had been feeling very unwell all night and was looking pretty rough. He gamely decided that he would still come. The second thing that went wrong was that when we arrived at Kassiopi, the carpark was still locked! There followed a brief moment of panic in case we were unable to find a space large enough for the mini bus. It was that large that they could easily drop the ‘mini’ from the title! Thankfully, a space was found near the harbour and we were at the boat in plenty of time.
We should point out that this was not what Tricia and I refer to as a Hi-Di-Hi cruise with lots of boozing and barbecues on the beach. It was simply a cruise into town, pointing out landmarks with about three and a half hours in town before returning to Kassiopi. You might almost call it a water taxi. The cruise was excellent as was the weather. The sea was also calm. It was a great opportunity to take photos. I don’t think that poor Dave saw much as he was confined below deck for the entire journey.
Having arrived at Corfu Town in the new marina, I recognised the captain’s mate as being a young man from our village. That was worth a free drink on the way home! The kids were itching to buy souvenirs and the like and so having got the family into the centre of the old town, Tricia and I decided to leave them to their own devices whilst we went and sat on the Liston with an ouzo meze each!
We met up at the agreed time and decided to eat at a nearby pizza place, The Spianada. What excellent pizzas! Tricia and I are still marvelling at
the fact that Ryan and Maggie decided to have Nutella pizzas – basically a pizza base spread with chocolate sauce. – Not the tidiest thing for a kid to eat but they enjoyed it!
We made our way back to the boat in plenty of time. Poor Dave was still very rough. The journey back was as good as the outward one. Upon our arrival in Kassiopi, Corinna and Dave took the children to look in a couple of shops whilst Tricia and I sat in the shade of a bar overlooking the harbour.
Suffice to say, that when we finally arrived home, Dave went straight to bed. How he had lasted the day is beyond us. He really was unwell.
That left the matter of the last night’s meal as Corinna, Dave and the children were returning to the UK the following day. Dave clearly wasn’t going to be joining us. A decision was made to return to The Navigators. I must confess that the meal wasn’t as good as the previous time and given that Maggie was clearly tired from the exertions of the day, I think that we were all glad to get home.
Thursday 14th August was very hot. Dave had made an amazing recovery. He had literally slept it off. All that remained was the last minute packing before lunch at Gelati’s and the journey to the airport. Leaving the family at the airport is always a sad time for us. The fact that this was the last family visit this year didn’t help. The temperature as we pulled out of the airport was 36°C. We wondered what Corinna and family were going to arrive back to in the UK.
Friday, 15th August was a public holiday. Tricia and I were up early. Tricia made a start clearing out the apartment whilst I strimmed two terraces. I couldn’t believe how much the grass and weeds had grown in about a month. I had to rescue one young tortoise and relocate him whilst strimming the second terrace. For once, there were no wildlife fatalities.
Our friends Chris and Bryan had returned to Corfu for their second visit of the year an on Friday, 22nd August we joined them for dinner at Tavernaki Taverna in Kassiopi. The place was packed and the food as good as ever. We were the last to leave and had a long chat with the owner, Dorothea and afterwards with her father. It is always good to speak to taverna owners particularly when they listen to your point of view and take note if something wasn’t to your liking. I had pointed out that although the fried Kalamari was good it wasn’t fresh. I felt that this should be pointed out in the menu. To my surprise, Dorothea agreed! It was a good night out with good friends.
Now for something slightly different!
As much as I complain about Facebook, I must confess that there are a few groups that have attracted my attention. One of them is entitled, ‘Corfu Butterflies and Other Wildlife’. Tricia and I have found ourselves contributing to this group more and more. It is not a case that we have suddenly become particularly interested in butterflies but there are quite a few different varieties on our land and personally, I find them quite a challenge to photograph as they frequently require a lot of patience – not something that I am particularly renowned for!
This Facebook Group was set up by Dr Dan Denahar, who is a Biodiversity Coordinator and teacher of Environmental Science at a school in Brighton. Dan is very passionate about his subject and his work in this field has been extensively recognised. He recently holidayed with his family in Corfu and sent us an invite to meet up in Old Peritheia. on Saturday, 23rd August.
Dan proved to be a very nice guy and his passion for butterflies and the environment could not be disguised! In the space of a very short walk, he pointed out countless different species that we would otherwise have missed. He certainly taught us a lot in a very short space of time and as a result, we have not missed an opportunity to photograph butterflies. We had a great time and look forward to repeating the experience should the occasion arise again.
Tuesday, 26th August was our wedding anniversary. Tricia and I had a pretty lazy day. Yes, I know that’s not that different to most days. However, as it was our 46th wedding anniversary we had booked a meal where we usually go for special occasions – Pomo D’Oro restaurant in Corfu Town.
Corfu Town in the evening is one of our favourite places. The buzz is not found anywhere else on the island. As is inevitable we started off with a preprandial drink on the Liston whilst we watched the world drift by. There was even a couple having their wedding photos taken!
Our meal at Pomo D’Oro was perfect! The food was outstanding, the wine superb and the service beyond compare. We arrived early at 9pm and it was already busy. Most of the tables had clearly been reserved (including ours) and some people were unfortunate enough to be turned away as the night progressed.
Situated in the delightful Skaramanga Square (Πλατεία Σκαραμαγκά) it is like a haven from the bustle of Corfu Town.
We tend only to visit there for special occasions, not because of the prices but because we like to have somewhere special to go. We can eat taverna or grill room food any time we want but this is something special.
We are often told that most Greeks prefer traditional Greek food. Going by the number of Greeks, both young and old, eating there, this clearly is not entirely true. This night there was a ‘Cosmopolitan’ feel there with both local people and visitors. Had we have been visitors and had simply stumbled on Pomo D’Oro, we would have been very happy.
The food is accurately described as ‘Modern Greek Cuisine’ It is also cooked by a chef – not simply someone whose Mum showed him how to do it. If you are a wine lover, there is a good selection and the staff are able to help with your selection.
Sometimes it is really nice to go somewhere where there is no loud music or raucous laughter, the wine comes in bottles and there was not a beer to be seen at any table!
A wonderful experience!
What else have we to tell you? I know … Football!
Chelsea have made an excellent start to the current season. Their new signings, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabragas seem to be fitting in amazingly well. As if to emphasise this, on Saturday, 30th August we watched a great win by Chelsea at Everton. The final score was Everton 3 – Chelsea 6. It was a great match to watch as both teams played outstanding football. That made three wins out of three matches this season for Chelsea.
Sunday, 31st, August was Tricia’s Dad’s 91st birthday and he was on great form when we phoned him! He even sung us a little ditty to the tune of 21 today …
I’m 91 today!
Don’t need the key of the door,
I got it many years before.
I don’t to need be told I can do as I like ‘cos I do it anyway!
And I can do whatever I like ‘cos I’m 91 today!
September arrived and it was almost as if Summer had ended on Monday, 1st September. Storms were anticipated and it was very windy. We battened down the hatches and secured everything we could think of. There was an otherwise eerie feel to the village as many summer visitors, including our neighbours returned to the mainland after their summer break.
The overnight storm was the first of many over the next few days.
We had a little respite on Wednesday, 3rd September. We picked Chris and Bryan up at 12noon and took them to Acharavi to look around the shops. We had a drink in the kafeneio along with some marinated gavros – lovely! The kafeneion had moved from its old home in Acharavi village to its current position. It has proven to be a good move as it now attracts visitors as well as locals.
From there we went to look for a suitable place for lunch on the seafront. We decided upon Faros Taverna which was a new place to us all. Tricia and I had, however, been recommended it by Katerina, the owner of Binelikia Taverna. It turned out to be a good decision. We were surprised at how good it was. The food was good and the owner was very hospitable. The prices were very reasonable. We all enjoyed the meal, The location next to the beach and the sunshine certainly helped!
It must be said that we were in something of an eating out frenzy as we went out for dinner with friends Neal and Bev along with their friend Elaine on Thursday, 4th September. at Archontiko Restaurant (Εστιατόριο Αρχοντικό) in Chlomatiana. None of us had eaten there before but we had heard good things.
Before I start I want to make a point for the benefit of visitors that there is a big difference between a restaurant and a taverna. Tricia and I generally eat in tavernas or grill rooms at least twice a week, summer and winter. We enjoy the experience but every now and then, we want something different. It was a long journey south and we had high expectations.
The restaurant is set up high and has very good views of the surrounding countryside as well as distant sea views and views of the mainland. Thankfully it had stopped raining a little before we arrived and so we opted to eat outside. This proved to be a good move! Our table was beautiful and quite unusual in that the base was made of an olive tree root whilst the top was fantastically shaped glass exposing the root. Very ‘organic’! The place settings, table and glassware were high quality.
Now for the important bit – the food! The menu was quite extensive but well laid out making it easy to negotiate. There were traditional dishes as well as dishes that I would describe as traditional but with their own twist. The prices were pretty much what we expect to pay in the more expensive north of the island and so provided no shocks!
We were provided with a beautifully presented meze to accompany our drinks whilst we were perusing the menu, comprising Noumboulo (Pork and beef) stuffed cucumber and stuffed celery. A nice touch.
We opted to eat ‘English style’ in that we had a starter and a main course. If, no, WHEN we return, we will go for a meze style meal because the list of meze dishes were excellent, both in variety and price. Between the starter and main courses we were offered a ‘digestif’ (Tsipouro or Limoncello) Again, a nice touch. All of our food was beautifully presented and tasted great. The portions were generous without being ‘over the top’.
We were pleased to see that all the outside tables were occupied and this included some very large parties. Tables were also occupied inside the restaurant. This was good to see bearing in mind that this was a Thursday evening and the weather had been pretty grim.
We suspect that it would be necessary to book at the weekend. We had several chats with Akis who heads up the front of house. It appears that the restaurant is almost all family run with only two of the ten members of staff not being family. A lot of effort had clearly been put into the establishment and in its running. It deserves to do well. Akis told us that they hope to open Saturdays and Sunday lunchtimes in the winter after a month’s break at the end of the season. We hope this happens.
The restaurant and outside eating area has, in our opinion, been very tastefully done. It is very modern but again, in our opinion the whole experience was in no way pretentious, just very pleasant indeed.
As is so often the case when we head south, this was a 150 Km trip for us. It was well worth it. Thankfully the rain held off until we started our journey home. We had thoroughly enjoyed our evening.
The unusually wet weather didn’t really let up with us but Chris and Bryan had managed to get some beach and pool time in on account that the bad weather had not been entirely island-wide. It had been a bit ‘touch and go’ on Saturday, 6th September. Tricia and I collected them in the evening to take them to another place that was new to us in Acharavi called Alegria. It has been promoted as a ‘Tapas Bar’ (Their description, not ours) Why they haven’t called it a mezedopoleio is beyond us because that is what it is. They serve mezedes!
We had a selection of mezedes and with the exception of one cheese dish, we liked them all. There was nothing wrong with the cheese dish but it was just not to our taste. Tricia and I will return to try out some of the other dishes on their menu.
Whilst we were tucking into our food, there was a horrendous storm with lots of thunder, lightning and torrential rain. We weren’t concerned as we were not out in it. The same could not be said for Jake and Bella. We had left them in the kitchen with a light on and music playing from the radio. Unfortunately, when we returned home we found that the power had tripped and Bella had disgraced herself. She really doesn’t like loud bangs!
On Tuesday, 9th September we collected Chris and Bryan to take them for what was to be their ‘Last Supper’ as they were to leave the following day for the UK. Our chosen venue was the Bolero Taverna in Kassiopi. Chris and Bryan had eaten there before both this year and during previous visits. We had heard that the portions were generous and that the prices reasonable. We always say that this is not necessarily a good sign but on this occasion, we were pleasantly surprised.
The staff were pleasant and helpful and I must confess that my mixed grill was excellent. It was generous and very well cooked. I have had so many mixed grills in the past that have been disappointing that I sometimes wonder why I bother! This though was an excellent example. There is at least someone that can prepare a mixed grill without cremating it! They clearly cater for the English visitor and we weren’t surprised at its popularity.
As we have mentioned Chris and Bryan left on Wednesday, 10th September. They were the last of our anticipated visitors this year. They had left just before the weather turned really nasty.
Thursday, 11th September started reasonable but the weather soon deteriorated. Rain; thunder; lightning; – you name it, we got it! By lunch time we had to turn the lights on it was so dire. It looked as if we could not be getting any respite until the following week.
As an indication of how crazy September’s weather has been we will cite the example of Saturday, 13th September. Tricia and I had to go into Corfu Town on a little business … not to mention having lunch out. When we returned to our car, the shade temperature was 32°C with beautiful sunshine. As we drew closer to home, the skies darkened although the temperature was still in the mid 20s.
By the time Tricia and I took the dogs for their last walk, there was the most amazing lightning display to the north of the island. This continued all night and developed into a full scale storm. However, when got up the sun was shining and the veranda showed no sign of wetness. There was then a shower in the middle of our mid-morning coffee which didn’t last long.
It is now 5.25pm and it is pouring with rain, so much so that the power just tripped! Thank God for the Uninterruptible Power Supplies! I did however swear!
That’s it. We are nearly uptodate.
Bob & Tricia.
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