‘The crisps are under the dog’

243 nights : 8,200 miles travelled : Countries visited: 14

‘Too much of a good thing is wonderful’   Liberace

It has been surprisingly refreshing living with limited space. It took us too long to remember what is in which cupboard and it can be irritating always moving one thing to get to another. However our innate urge to hoard and live like slobs has been resisted; Brian’s interior can resemble a jumble sale in less than an hour, so we have learned to tidy as we go!

It has also been great buying only enough groceries for a few days at a time, as it doesn’t make sense to carry trolley fulls with us. This fell apart slightly over the past few weeks. With not moving on every couple of days, we were able to justify acquiring extra goodies with the advent of Christmas. However there was not enough space to put them in everyday cupboards so we had wine, crisps and sweets stowed away in every available nook and cranny under the seats. We often had to weigh up the urge to snack with the hassle of disturbing Kipper. Our post-Christmas waistlines betray how often the poor dog was woken up!

Being based in Drepano for five weeks has recharged our batteries. It has been wonderful to use local shops and to catch snatches of village life as we pass through. Women in their best black embracing each other after church. Children precariously balanced on the front of tractors or on the back of mopeds. Old men playing backgammon on the streets outside the bar. Crated oranges piled precariously high on their way to distribution depots. It all feels novel and yet familiar.

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Our daughter Hannah visited and she enjoyed a condensed version of our temporary residency in a few short days. From a swim in the sunshine and lunch at the taverna on the beach to wandering ancient ruins under a threatening sky.

The theatre at Epidavros is one of the best preserved in Greece.

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The scale of the 3rd century theatre is awe-inspiring
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The theatre has amazing acoustics from even the highest seats
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A dramatic setting 
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Taking centre stage!
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Epidavros was a renowned sanctuary of healing. Now it is the temples being restored.
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The museum displays statues, votive offerings and inscriptions recording miraculous cures

The main advantage of sleeping high over the cab is that it the only area out of reach of Kipper…or so we thought. He was delighted that  Hannah came to visit and didn’t want to miss out on a second of her being back with the pack!

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What’s the problem?

Hannah’s last night saw the worst storm in Drepano for 20 years. The sea frothed and washed the narrow beach across the road and into campsites and driveways.

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We inspected the damage to distract ourselves from the gloom of returning Hannah to the airport.  It was impressive how quickly the debris was cleared up and the road was surveyed for repairs within days. While the financial crisis is very real here in Greece, it is very much a country that is still functioning; usually with a warm smile too!

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Even the  change in the weather did not help us to unstick ourselves from Drepano. Too much of this good thing has indeed been wonderful. We have so loved living simply and slowly; even a coffee with neighbours can take 3 hours! However we are aware that the Peloponnese holds more treasures so we have at last managed to move on; only by promising ourselves that we will return before we leave Greece!

M & G xx

Treat of the week: A tough choice. The homemade tsipouro kindly given to us by the butcher in Drepano or Hannah’s gift of teabags from England? Probably the one that didn’t leave the screaming headache the next morning!

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Not water…firewater!
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At last a decent cuppa.

 

Under Pressure

We’ve been here quite a few nights: Not many miles travelled: No more countries since the last time!

Kali Hronia!

Both my Mother and Grandmother regularly used pressure cookers when I was a child but we were also fed stories about exploding stews and soup being sprayed all over the walls. That, along with the horrid hissing sound  they made meant that we avoided the kitchen as though there was an unstable nuclear reactor being used to cook dinner.

So it was a big decision to buy a pressure cooker as part of our preparations for the trip. They cook faster than a conventional pan so use a lot less fuel  and modern pressure cookers are lighter with more safety features. Nevertheless I watch and listen the whole time it is on the heat. But this was my only concern on Christmas morning. We made avgolemono (egg-lemon chicken soup)  and hirino me prasa (pork, fennel and leek ragout) to share with other lovely Brits for lunch. Chris and Catherine cooked a delicious lamb kleftiko while David and Carol provided the essential roast potatoes and pigs in blankets (it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.)  There wasn’t a brussel sprout or a mince pie in sight and nor did I miss the hours of traditional peeling, stuffing and basting.

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Thankfully over indulgence is an international tradition!
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Role reversal… personalised stockings from our lovely kids
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Some of us braved a Christmas day swim
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Boxing Day saw a closely contested boules tournament
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Some took it less seriously than others!
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Victory is sweet

Our campsite is about half way along the beach at Drepano. There are strange rock formations along the water’s edge but the water is Greek clear and it is easy to spot and avoid the sea urchins that cling to them. Small boats regularly fish the bay against the backdrop of islands and distant mountains.

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Drepano Beach from the Asine acropolis

The western end of the beach is buttressed by the fortified acropolis of Asine, an ancient city that participated in the Trojan war. Little remains after it was used as a gun emplacement by Italian troops during the second world war.

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The acropolis gives views of the orange groves to the north
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Romvi and Koronisi to the south

The village is in easy walking distance and there is a lively village community.

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A stressful walk to the shops….Kipper is terrified of sheep!

 

Local shops had a warm festive buzz on Christmas eve and we have been wished ‘kali hronia’ countless times over the new year.

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We celebrated an Auckland New Year so that we could eat lunch together outside and avoid the need to stay up until midnight!
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The hats indicate a 10 degree drop in temperature from Christmas week

Nafplio was the capital of the newly formed Greek state in the 19th century and the old town is the most beautiful we have seen in Greece. There is plenty to see and do but we love just to sit with a coffee and watch people go by.

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The old town is built on a peninsula
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The Bourtzi is the smallest of three fortresses
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Italian influence in Syntagma Square
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Kipper can’t even pretend that he’s been good! It was strange to see Christmas decorations in such bright sunshine
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Decorating a boat is more traditional than putting lights on a tree

Epiphaneia is marked on January 6th by a blessing of the waters where a cross is thrown into the sea at the end of a religious ceremony. The cross is then retrieved by local volunteers. We were unaware of this tradition and arrived in Nafplio just as the parades had ended. If I had realised we were missing the sight of young men diving into the harbour I’m sure I would have got out of bed an hour or two earlier.

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The party is over!
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Locals enjoyed promenading in their Sunday best
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The Arvanitia Promenade follows the edge of the rocky peninsula
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The kilometre long walk offers an unusual perspective of the town
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The bouys!
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Even the cacti don’t escape the Greek love of graffiti

We have so enjoyed travelling over the last six months that we wondered how we’d ever manage life in one place again. However we are well into  our fourth week in Drepano and can’t imagine wanting to leave. We occasionally get the maps and guides out….and then they are put away again. So we aren’t putting ourselves under any pressure to make firm plans in the hope that we find ourselves back on the road without even noticing.

Happy New Year!

M & G xx

Treat of the week: The phrase ‘oranges are in season’ will always take us back to being surrounded by them over Christmas 2015