Local Heart, Global Soul

July 24, 2014

A Special Day That No One Would Ever Ask For: Standing in Solidarity…

Filed under: Uncategorized — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

I’m interrupting my retrospective series of posts of our October 2012 trip to Greece because today has been a special day in The Netherlands.

Special for all the wrong reasons, special because we welcomed home the first of the victims of Malaysian Airways Flight 17.

There were no tears of joy at this reunion, it was a home-coming no-one would ever wish for, and yet, as church bells tolled the length and breath of the country, as citizens fell silent at an appointment time as a mark of respect, as all public transport stood still, the nations courts suspended their business to observe, as workers and passengers at Schipol airport stood silent, as aircraft kept in holding patterns and did not land or take off during this time,  as the nations work places, businesses, shopping streets, people at home and people at play stopped what they were doing and became totally still, our tears joined a nation as one, as we tried to give back the respect and dignity that was despicably taken away from the victims over the skies and on the ground of Russian controlled Ukraine.

The flag on the little flagpole of our home stood a half mast, along with others in the street, neighbourhoods all over the country and on every public building in The Netherlands. We wanted to send a message to all of the families and friends of all of the victims that they were not alone.

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

We wanted to send a message that our thoughts were with them, that our tears were  because we cared and because we could find no other way to start to imagine their pain. Windmills around the country were set with their sails titled to the right, a sign of mourning, radio and television stations suspended all advertisements, and hundreds of thousands lined the route that the sad column of forty hearses made their down, accompanied by a police motorcycles and a motorcade of  motocycle  Koninklijke Marechaussee (Royal Military Constabulary).

Two military planes landed in a military base in Eindhoven. The small of the two planes was Dutch,  the far larger Australian. Almost one thousand family members attended but by arrangement their presence was not televised by any media present as a mark of respect. A lone soldier played a bugle as the plane doors opened and then a nationwide minute silence ensued. The Military removed the coffins one by one with a great deal of respect and care. Nothing was rushed. If respect would be tangible then it was tangible, It was moving, quiet, reserved and dignified  in a way that we can only hope went some way to replacing the indignity that these innocent passengers had been subjected to in the last week.

The feeling of pain was also tangible, even seasoned soldiers looked like they were working hard to overcome emotions. Parts of two motorways were closed to allow the long line of hearses to travel to a military base in Hilversum. People lined the route en mass, motorway overpasses and hard shoulders were crowded with ordinary citizens who wanted to show their respect. In some places the motorways were strewn with flowers.

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

In Hilversum the terrible task of identification awaits. According to Dutch news reports 85 Dutch forensic experts were already present, international experts joining them or en route are said to bump the total up to approximately 150.

This evening, in cities all around the Netherlands a “stille tocht” (silent vigils) took place. People dressed in white as a sign of peace and later let off white balloons. How many thousands attended I do not know, but it was tens of thousands at the very least.

I have stood in silence, I have followed the day’s proceedings from start to finish on TV. I have cried tears for strangers I did not know, but who could have so easily been someone I knew. One family were a good friends of my physiotherapist, the children lost, went to school with her daughters.  I have two passports, New Zealand and Dutch, there was a New Zealander amongst the victims and many Dutch.

It doesn’t matter if I knew them personally or not, or what nationality they are, these are fellow human beings: children, infants, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandparents, and what has been done to them was not decent or deserved. Their family’s need to know that whilst I can not begin to image their pain, I can show a mark of respect to try and show my solitary and support in their darkest hour.

Today brings more flights, and Friday too and I will do it all again. The only way balance the disrespect that has been shown to these victims in Ukraine is to balance it, nay cancel it out by sheer force of overwhelming support, to cry at the loss , to lay flowers, to show respect  and to let the family’s know that people, the Dutch people definitely care.

These are special days. Special for all the wrong reasons, but I am proud to be Dutch, I am proud to be an International citizen and I am proud of my fellow Dutch for their tough spirit that sends a message that decency should win over indecency, that dignity should be restored and that sorrow should be shared.

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

(photograph © Dutch Media)

July 23, 2014

Some Batteries Are Recharged With Food And Sleep…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our kids are living proof that gadgets are not necessarily what makes them happy. (Although they might not think that all of the time).

We are a family that only recently bought a family Ipad, there are no PlayStation, no MP3 players, X-boxes, “gamer” toys, no ipods in our home and it’s only this year that Kiwi Daughter got a phone.

A basic phone that costs Euro 20,-  and (horrors) makes phone calls and is intended for use in case of emergencies.

If she wants something expensive with bells and whistles when I expect her to lift her butt off the sofa and do a lot of extra work around the house to earn it.

So far her wish to remain  comfortable on said article of furniture appears to far outweigh her wish for an expensive phone so my cash remains safely enclosed in my wallet.

I know I’m the meanest Mama in the whole wide world and “everybody at school has a smart phone / iphone etc, than these days she swears needs a phone”  (insert scathing look when I mention that indeed she has a phone, but  apparently something as basic as the one she has been given is not  called a “phone”, it’s called an “embarrassment”) .

But tough, … as long as I have a lot of noise but no action then she’s not getting expensive stuff  every time she expresses a wish.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My concession into the world of technology is that we bought  a Wii when we finally upgraded our eighteen year old TV a little while back, our VCR is so old it still plays video tapes as well as CD’s.

We have the old style Nintendo’s for long car and plane trips and I refuse to upgrade to the latest models because they don’t play with them any other time than on long trips anyway.

Little Mr.  who is currently nine years old, doesn’t have a phone, heck I don’t even have a mobile phone, and never have (I know, shock horror in this day and age, although I have to admit that I am currently on a waiting list for a Fair Phone because my days of being unconnected are numbered now that Kiwi Daughter attends a High School across the city and is slowly branching out in becoming independent).

They might rant about what they don’t have sometimes, but our investments are in travel, experiences, new places, cultures and getting to know the world they live in.

I have a permanent stash of stick-paste- paint-draw materials at home and often on a warms summer’s day the most fun can be had outside on the street with a good supply of water balloons, empty squeezy detergent bottles, buckets of water and the multitude of neighbourhood kids who appear like magic to join in once alerted by a few loud squeals of delight.

Here in Greece back in 2012 it’s no different, Little Mr. spies rope, wood and rocks and begs to play. Himself and I can enjoy our tea and coffee and a quiet moment whilst Little Mr. uses his imagination and flings the rope out into the water repeatedly, saving whatever  or whoever character he is muttering about at that moment. Little voices depict different characters as he plays out the scene.

These photographs were taken two years ago when he was seven, his hair is different now and he’s grown a lot and none of the photos show his face so I feel ok about adding them here.

It was with great reluctance that he left his game of pirates, ships, rescues and adventures later when Himself and I had finished our meal, dessert, beverages, rested and paid the bill. He was so proud of the collection of sticks and stones, and disappointed that the rope could not be procured and taken home. Great fun and it all runs on a battery that consists of food and sleep. We might not be up with the latest tech stuff, but in my book,  imagination beats electronics any day of the week.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 22, 2014

A Few Locals (Or Eleven!) Invite Themselves For Lunch…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The date was the last week of October 2012, the place was Palio Trikeri Island, off the extreme tip of the Pelion Peninsular in Greece.

The setting was the restaurant that I featured in yesterday’s post.

Apart from a couple that appeared to be on a walking holiday we appear to be the only other tourists on the island this late in the season. We have just enjoyed a fabulous lunch, in fact I found a fish dish that is beyond divine.

But just because there were not other human customers present, doesn’t mean to say that we were alone.

During our meal we attracted the attention of some of the local wildlife, I’m not too certain if they were greedy local house pets or feral , but no sooner had our meals been carried to the table than we were joined by some of the neighbourhood cats.  Of course cats adore fish, and after tasting my delicious meal I couldn’t blame them from coming to beg for part of the action.

So… what was unusual about a cat coming smooching in the hope of a little lunch? nothing, except that I’ve never ever been joined by eleven of them at once. That’s right, eleven cats. They were all ages, sizes and colours, three sat demurely at the head of our table, politely staring at our plates but not actually setting foot on the table itself (ugh, they would have gotten short shift if they’s tried that one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr tried to feed them small pieces of  French fries… these discerning beasts looked at him with faces that clearly said “stupid boy, who wants potato when there is fish such as this as a possibility?

They waited patiently and gave us their best stares so that the message was perfectly clear what they were really there for.

It was their lucky day, having tried hard to tempt Little Mr. to eat fish off the bone, Himself and I did our parental duty and stuffed ourselves with as much of his portion (as delicious as ours) as we could manage.

There was still plenty left over and we were fit to burst, so Little Mr. amused himself by carefully and patiently separating fish from bones with his fingers and attempting to feed each cat equally. (on the ground).

The bigger, older cats tried hard to muscle in on the action so Little Mr. figured out that preparing multiple portions and distributing to the younger, smaller beasts whilst the older ones were distracted was a technique that worked. I didn’t manage to get all of the cats in a single photograph, some were more tame than others and several were on the ground on the other side of the table and scattered when I moved to try and take a photo. One adorable little grey kitten made himself comfortable on the seafront wall at the end of the next table after he had had his nibbles. If I wasn’t allergic to pet hair I’m certain I could become a cat lady. Sadly we had to tell Little Mr. that no, he couldn’t take it (or any of the others) home with us.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 21, 2014

By Chance And Good Luck, We Order The Best Fish I Have Ever Eaten…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself, Little Mr and I are exploring Palio Trikeri Island at the end of the Pelion Peninsula in Greece.

The boat trip was only about ten minutes long and we find ourselves in the heart of the village and since it’s now lunch time, getting very hungry.

This is a retrospective post, we were there at the end of October 2012 and it was the very end of the tourist season, we see a couple leaving one of the outside restaurant tables who look like they are on some sort of walking tour, but for the rest we appear to be the only “non-locals” in sight.

Just before  reached the island we thought we might walk a little bit and then sit and get a bite to eat but the sight of food makes our tummies rumble and the plan quickly changes to eating first and walking later.

There are several restaurants open but on a whim we choose the one that the previous couple just left. It’s been trying to rain off and on, but the weather is easing considerably as we enquire about a meal and by the time we have finished it”s completely dry. The temperature even in the last week of October is still  a respectably warm 26 C (78.8 F)  and the outside seating area is covered, so even if it would have been drizzling a tiny bit it still would have been comfortable outside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We order the Greek equivalent of “fish and chips” for little Mr., the fish comes whole and un-filleted, so I had to pick as much of the fish off the bones for him, which kind of worked, in reality he mostly ended up eating a lot of French fries.

Himself’s dish came with deep fried squid and mine was a different fish on the menu to Little Mr., also deep fried.

We shared a large salad together and Himself had a yearning for some beans and tzatziki and got an extra hummus dish on the side as bonus .

(he’s not sure if it came with the larger dish he ordered, if it was an entrée or if whatever the lady said in broken English he just randomly agreed to) but however we got it, it was delicious.

I have to say now that my fish, although it had bones in it too, is definitely best fish dish I have ever eaten in my life. The fish “batter” was of a thin-ish consistency, it’s super crunchy and the flavour was drool-worthy.  This is the kind of meal that you find yourself wishing you’d eaten  two portions of, even if you were not actually hungry after the first one was finished.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the kind of meal you want to eat more of  in gluttonous fashion simply because you don’t want the magic to end.

After initial dissections with the knife and fork I quickly abandoned the knife and resorted to using the fork and my fingers, not wanting to waste even a single morsel.

I find myself wishing we had planned to spend the night here, just so we could come back to this restaurant and I could have this again, even all the twists and turns in the road were worth it.

Of course the fish is mega fresh, it was certain to have been caught the same morning, and this is the kind of dish that the local eat, so probably it’s a local family recipe made with years or decades of experience.

It’s simple but done to absolute perfection.

The owner was delighted with my gushing compliments and obvious pleasure, and bought out a little square of something that was kind of nutty and cake-like free of charge for dessert. Himself finished it because like many Greek desserts  it was too sweet for my liking. I dreamed about this meal for the rest of our holiday and semi-regularly since. I tried to make it at home, and failed… one day, somehow some time, clearly, I will have to come back…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 20, 2014

Phone Up The Skipper And Ask Him To Come Over…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post that details our October 2012 visit to Greece and our day-trip exploring the very tip of the Pelion Peninsular, we have come to the end of the road.

Rather literally the road ends at the waters edge and if we had stumbled upon this place without any local knowledge then chances are that Little Mr. would have played on the beach and paddled in the sea for a little while and then we would have turned the car around and driven  on.

(We’ve left Kiwi Daughter with our in-laws, playing with older cousin her age) Luckily we had been instructed on what to do when we got here by our  in-laws who have learned Greek due to their many years of holidaying here.

There’s a little concrete pier here but no scheduled ferry service. Instead there’s a sign with a telephone number and the idea is that if you want to get to the island then you  just ring the number and the ferryman will pop over and get you. We duly ring the number on the sign and luckily the  man who answers speaks English, is friendly and assures us he will be there shortly. Some ten  minutes or so later we see him rounding the point at the edge of the bay and soon the skipper is bringing the boat / water taxi up to the little dock. We board and are off.

The journey only takes around ten, maybe fifteen minutes, in next to no time we are pulling up at a concrete pier on the island, the buildings are right on the waterfront so we walk in front of them until we come to a little side street (actually it’s more of an alley) and passing between the houses we emerge in what might be described as the “main street”. Time to look around and see what we want to do next…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The dock on the mainland…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Approaching the Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 19, 2014

We Need An Old Fashioned Method Of Navigation…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you travel to the very very end of the Pelion Peninsula there are a little group of  islands.

(Greece has several hundred inhabited islands and roughly three thousand uninhabited islands or rocky outcrops).

One thing we discovered this trip was that you should not always assume that because a country is in Europe that it is also listed on your “European Counties” on your sat. nav.

Needless to say we assumed Greece would be and packed Our Lady of The Tom Tom in our suitcase.

When we went to make this day-trip we retrieved it and were flabbergasted to find that in a very long list of countries, including many Eastern European ones, Greece wasn’t listed. Really? Truly. I kid you not.

Luckily our brother in law had an old fashioned map we could borrow and we set out this misty drizzly morning to explore the end of the peninsular. To note that the roads here are full of twists and turns is an understatement, I had my anti-motion sickness wrist bands on but even then frequent stops were needed so that I didn’t  slowly turn green and suffer the consequences.  On the positive side, there were plenty of places to admire the view so pulling over also gave me some good photo opportunities despite the weather.

We start out early from Platania and wind our way through more hairpin bends than I could count. The map I got from the internet didn’t even show the last section  of road we took, so I took liberties and drew it in roughly where it should be. The road comes to an abrupt end right on a beach where there’s a small parking area to leave your car. If the average tourist stumbled on this place they’s have no clue what to do next, but luckily the local knowledge that our in-laws have accumulated over the years is about to be put to good use…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The town of Milina…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Zooming in…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The road does a tight hairpin around the bay just before Kottes (bottom left of my map above)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking back the way we’ve come…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and ahead just before we loop back along the other side of the bay…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Island of Palio Trikeri ahead of us, we have just left the town of  Trikeri (still on the peninsular)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking past the island towards the far side of the Pagasitische Gulf… (the town of Dimitriada somewhere in the central far distance)… Dimitriada didn’t fit on my map above, if that map had been bigger the town would have to be higher than the top left corner).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This road isn’t even marked on most maps…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve lost count how many twists and turns later, but the road gets a lot smaller now…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… until all of a sudden it ends abruptly at the waters edge…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 18, 2014

A Hiding Place For Five And A Half Months? It’s On The Cards…

Filed under: Funny,Greece,Life,photography,Platania — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like quirky things: where else will you go to get our fix of weird photographs about the patterns on drain covers around the world? or the shapes and colours of telephone boxes or post boxes?

This post adds another postbox to my “collection” and that’s exactly the reason that I took the photograph in the first place, but in a twist of fate this very letterbox became the centre of a mystery that unfolded later on in our holiday and after our return.

We visited Greece at the end of October 2012 during the kids school half-term break . One thing that I do regularly is to send postcards to people from places we have been. On this occasion I had a stack of postcards and since we were here with extended family members, I addressed several to various family members who were unable to join us and during one family dinner in a restaurant close by, all of the family present added little notes of good wishes and signed them.

When we left the restaurant, the kids joined my slow walk to the car while Himself ambled over to this postbox and put a large handful of postcards through the slot. There were no signs or stickers, the slot worked as usual.

Fast forward to our return home to the Netherlands. We knew that Greek post was not known for being lightening fast so waited two weeks, then asked various family and friends if they had received our card from Greece.   No?  Ok… let’s give it some more time. A month passes, then two and our kids ask their cousins if by chance they ever got our card from Greece.

Again the answer was a bewildered “No”.  After this we more or less forgot about the cards, Himself and I discussed it briefly at some stage and decided that they must have been lost in transit, but did wonder a bit why they all  seemed to be missing, considering the fact that they were addressed and stamped for destinations all around the world. Oh well, it’s one of those things, right?

Then in April 2013 my Mother in Law suddenly said to Himself : “Why didn’t you tell me that you had been on holiday to Greece a few weeks ago? ” He replied that we hadn’t, but she said “of course you did, you sent me a postcard!“.

Finally the penny dropped:  The cards he had posted in Greece on the last week of October 2012, had finally arrived in The Netherlands mid April 2013.

Talking to other friends and family revealed that their cards posted at the same time also arrived around this date. Jokes ensued that it obviously takes a Greek postman five and a half  months to walk to the Netherlands!  What I think actually happened though, is that since we were in Platania after the summer tourist trade had long gone that probably the post  simply ceased to be collected. The postbox had no indication that collections had stopped and in all likelihood our postcards sat hibernating in this yellow postbox over the winter months until postal collections resumed in April the next year.

That’s my theory at least, I can’t think of any other way that all of the cards could have remained together and undelivered for so long. If only those cards could talk.

 

 

July 17, 2014

Getting To Know The Little Town We Are In…

Filed under: Greece,photography,Platania — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

We stayed in the small town of Platania, Greece for six days at the end of October 2012 and during our stay we made frequent trips around the town. If we were going further,  we would take the car to the water front, but several times when I felt better, Himself would drive me there and I would walk with the crutches back to our accommodation. On each occasion I made sure I had my camera to hand and by the end of our stay I had a series of  photographs that showed off the town. In this post I start with some of the sights of a little Greek town winding down after the summer tourist season.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The local bakery is close to the beach front…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Only in Greece?   …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 16, 2014

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Recipe For Curing Olives…

Filed under: photography,Food,Recipes,Step-by-Step Tutorials,Greece,Platania — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are lots of advantages of having family who have become very familiar with a particular place over a long period of time.

Our in-laws have holidayed  in Platania for several decades and now own a small holiday home there.

Not only are they excellent friends with many of their neighbours, they have learned Greek and the whole village knows who they are, and many locals are also good friends.

One of their Greek friends is Thomas, the owner of the small local grocery shop, and I had instructions from my sister in law when I went there to let Thomas know that I was “family”.

The smile and friendly greeting that I was received with quickly got broader and I soon had recommendations of places to go, the best products to buy, and by the end of our stay,  his family recipe for curing olives. We visited Platania in the last week of October 2012. It was our children’s half-term school holiday but luckily for us, it was also the beginning of the olive harvest in Greece. Himself and I are olive lovers, Kiwi Daughter is slowly acquiring the taste  and mega fussy Little Mr, who knows, might discover the taste of many a gastronomic delight one day in the future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two days before we left Greece the olives started to arrive in the shop…  there are trees everywhere and naturally many local cure olives from their own gardens but there are also freshly picked olives for sale in the shops.

I tentatively asked the price thinking they would be expensive but got a very pleasant surprise when I found out that 1 kilogram of olives costs only one Euro.

This was the moment I started ruing the fact that we had packed light for our budget airline flight and had squeezed everything into a small bag for the convenience of having only one bag and not two.

Fortunately my brother in law had bought some tools  for their renovation project from home and was planning to use them when he came back in the new year for a “work week”, so there was space in their luggage I could use.   I stocked up on five kilograms (approx 10 lb) of fresh olives for the princely sum of five Euros and with Thomas’s recipe ended up with the best souvenir I’ve ever bought in my life.

Tip: Thomas said you know your salt water mix is good if you take a raw egg (in shell) and float it in the water, if only 5mm of the shell sticks out of the water your salt solution is a good one. (the egg is only used to see how salty the water is, you don’t use it anywhere in the recipe)

Kiwidutch Tip:  Our In-laws cured the olives off their trees at the same time as I did mine. Both lots were edible around Christmas time and they couldn’t resist trying theirs: once they did, their entire stash of olives was gone by the time they rang in the New Year. Family Kiwidutch put our olives into jars and stashed them out of sight so we wouldn’t be tempted. We opened the first jars in April 2013 with extended family members present and the in-laws who had finished their olives, immediately conceded that we had hit the jackpot by leaving ours a few months more…the olives were soft and beyond delicious. Commercially bought olives taste nothing like these… so if you think commercial ones are good then you would find this recipe simply divine.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Olive Curing Recipe: 

- Take each olive and slice lengthwise three times.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

- cover with water at least 1 week and change water every two days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

- after 1-2 weeks tip the most recent water out and for every litre of water you put in new, add 80g salt. Soak olives in this mixture 1 week.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

- after 1 week rinse off the salt water, and make the following mixture: 50-70 ml olive oil + 150g vinegar + 80 grams salt for very litre of water used(the water should cover the olives). Keep the olives in this new mixture for two weeks.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In “theory” the olives are ready to eat at this point BUT if you keep the olives in a cool dark place the flavour will improve with age.

If you want to flavour your olives with garlic etc then add the garlic into this mix. You can also put the mix into glass jars after the two weeks so that you can age them, and the olive oil in the mix should float to the top and seal the jar.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

July 15, 2014

The Pelion Peninsular And The Little Town Of Platania At One End…

Filed under: Greece,Platania — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The little Greek town of Platania sits at the tip of the Pelion Peninsular.

It’s an area of Greece that is still quiet and  free of tourist tower blocks, beach front night clubs and masses and masses of tourists.

The area is covered with historical donkey tracks known locally as “Kalderimi” and they are now popular tracks with walkers.

Therefore the area attracts a particular type of tourist, ones that like quieter areas, local food and who are happy to explore the region on their own.

I learn from my in-laws that traditionally  the kalderimi   were short cuts for walkers between villages, donkey trails or historical trails that had been there for centuries.

There are also “monopati”  which are narrow footpaths used by shepherds. Some  have steps, all are in various states of repair and  so in this area an organisation has sprung up called the “The Friends of the Kalderini of South Pelion” (link below) where locals, ex-pats and visitors advertise the presence of the tracks to keep interest in them alive, attract visitors to this lesser known region and many spend time helping upgrade the tracks on a voluntary basis.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Walking the tracks is certainly a way to have a healthy holiday, there are often beautiful beaches along the routes and views are guaranteed to be amazing.

Then of course there is some effort involved but afterwards  there is also the  excellent prospect of dining with the Greek locals at a local village eatery and staying the night in little guest houses in  a beautiful village after your walk.

My in-laws have used their place as a hub for various  kalderimi  day trips, but have ideas once they retire (and have more time after their renovations) to do longer walks that incorporate stays in villages along the way.

I’d be interested in doing this if I’m mobile enough one day too.

This series of photos is a compilation of  several views: first is the way in to Platania via the hills of the peninsular, then views along the beach-front, the harbour area where the local fisherman are busy with their boats. I took photographs at various times of the day and night during our stay because they were often busy working under lights in the evenings and although it took a lot of shots to get a few decent ones in focus, the lights on the water were a challenge I couldn’t resist.

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.friendsofthekalderimi.org/whatwedoa.html

https://www.facebook.com/southpelion/info

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