Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The green green hills of home

Hania is filled with green foliage from the orange and olive trees, but the ground soil isn't always covered in grass. These green hills in the distance are more of a rarity than a common sight. During the summer months, they will have turned a rusty brown colour.

the green green hills of home hania chania

This area (Varipetro) is known for its pasture lands that are suitable for grazing animals, which is why it is possibly greener than other areas.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


koum kapi hania chania

The last month in Hania has been very cold and dreary, although the sea is always an uplifting sight.

This photo shows the antithesis of the architecture we often come across in Hania. The two buildings on the corner of the road, standing across from each other, were probably both built around the same time. But the fate of each one has taken a different turn.

A wide range of buildings stand side-by-side in Hania, each one representing a different time period. Click on the photo to see the notes.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Dear Friends from all over the world,
Thanks for supporting my blog for so long, especially during my illness, and my recent absence from your own blogs, which are a great source of inspiration for me.
I was in Athens just recently, and I feel as if I have recharged my batteries enough to last me through to the summer.
I'll start writing more very soon, as well as get back to read your own work.
Once again, thanks for showing the interest to get me back to writing.
Here's hoping to keep up your interest!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The corner shop

bakaliko the mini-maket in the neighbourhood

Supermarkets have been trying to do away with this kind of little neighbourhood mini-market, but this 'bakaliko' is in a densely populated area of the town. The street where it is located is filled with apartment blocks and the road running parallel to it is where the Agora is located. But people still use their corner store here; there were plenty of customers coming in and out when I was in the area. Town people prefer local shops in the city centre than having to move their cars from the little parking space available, or walk too far carrying heavy shopping bags, etc. This shop sells all the basic supplies, including staple supermarket products, which is a good thing, because people in the middle of town don't often have a supermarket easily accessible to them.
The owner of the store also sells his own village produce, which urban people seek; they often do not have access to products straight from the villages that surround the town centre of Hania.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Sign of the times?


It's good to have a place to write/draw graffiti without damaging property.

Unfortunately, not everyone uses this derelict crumbled building in Koum Kapi (near the old town; it faces the sea) - some people still prefer to take out on unsuspecting law-abiding citizens who have high white-washed walls on their property.

immigrant brothers graffiti

The graffiti on this renovated (in the old style) house in the medieval old town is not defamatory ("immigrants, our brothers", but still, it must be annoying for the owners who had recently painted it.

Greg gave me the graffiti idea for this post.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Shop assistant wanted

assistant wanted

"Shop assistant wanted: apply in person"

It's a strange sign to see these days, given the economic times: one would think the job would have been snapped up before there was even time for a sign to be put up.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Full moon

home view at night

Here's what I see most nights from the balcony of my house: the strip of lights is the motorway, the short strip of lights in the centre of the photo in the dark horizon is the ferry boat which leaves nightly for Athens, and tonight, there's the added bonus of a full moon.

And from Monday, I'm back in working order, the pneumonia having passed.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Spring is here

spring is here

Our apricot tree has just bloomed.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Sad day

While I'm stuck at home feeling very sick, this is what is going on outside my house.

sad day in my neighbourhood

A very popular neighbour was killed in a car crash at the weekend. He was a highly successful businessman, and had lived the last few years of his life as a bachelor looking after his 90+-year-old mother, who had once cooked my family a traditional Cretan lunch when I was newly married. Vassilis himself had been helping all the young people in the neighbourhood by providing them with the opportunity to get their first job in one of his many successful business ventures, including a taverna, medicine warehouse and mini-market.

People came to pay their last respects. We live on a hill with narrow roads, which is why the cars were parked haphazardly.

sad day in my neighbourhood

In traditional fashion, the funeral notice was pinned onto the lamppost (tree-trunks are also used), and in this way, everyone could find out where the funeral would be held.

Just a couple of kilometres away, as he was driving to come home, 62-year-old Vassilis died when a brand new 4x4 pick-up truck driven by an unlicensed 16-year-old (his daddy's a well-known businessman in town, and yes, he knew his son was driving the new car) rammed into Vassilis' lane and crashed head on with Vassilis' car. Vassilis wasn't wearing a seat-belt; the other driver insisted that the seat-belt saved his life...

Goodbye Vassilis, you will be sorely missed.

10 things you'd never guess about me

Rachel loves to come and visit my blog just to see my garden. She knows what a mixed blessing having a garden is: hard work to create appropriate microclimates, more hard work to maintain it, and just as much effort to save the excess produce for less bountiful times. For all my regular readers, you will know that my family's garden is an indispensable part of our daily life, as it is for most of our neighbours, given the rural setting we dwell in.

Rachel's recent focus on home gardens has inspired me to reveal a few things about myself that will put a lot of the things I write about in my posts in perspective.
  1. My husband is an avid gardener, orchardist and hunter. If I were in charge of running the garden, I'd have planted flowers (like I did when I was living alone). Of course, I respect his efforts and put everything he plants and grows into full use. But the fact remains: he does all the heavy-duty work. I am merely his whinging assistant.
  2. When I'm at work, I'm known as "the English professor". You will probably have guessed (correctly) that I don't like to make a great deal of fuss over such a daunting title, but the fact still remains, I teach in an academic environment.
  3. For 20 hours a week (of which 3 are spent teaching, while the rest are spent proof-reading, translating, marking student work and preparing class work), I am remunerated (with 17 years of teaching experience in Greece behind me, not including 3 years of teaching similar students in New Zealand) with the princely sum of 653 euros (nett, inclusive of family benefits as a mother of two young children - I told you Greek salaries are very low), despite the fact that ...
  4. ... I'm one of a very small number of highly qualified English teachers in the whole of Hania, even though there are about 70 private English language schools operating in the area. I'm extremely good at my job, something that gives me great confidence, a most enviable quality in the present unstable economic climate. This is not taken into account in the salary I am paid, but I've never tried using this asset to my advantage.
  5. The tips of my fingers and the outer rims of my fingernails are usually a shade of brown, in contrast to my pale olive skin. This is usually from digging up weeds in the garden, harvesting crops, cleaning greens meticulously, and chopping greens to make green pies. No matter how much you scrub, the stains will remain unless you wear gloves, and I can't stand the feel of plastic on my hands. It may sound unseemly to be unmanicured given my academic background, but I remember my academic years in New Zealand in similar vein - some of my professors wore flip flops when they came to lecture us on topics ranging from the morphology of the English language to syntax and semantics (and some of them did not have smooth heels). One came barefoot in the summer, and wore flip flops in the winter. (The only time I can keep my fingers clean are in the summer when they spend a lot of time in seawater; in the winter, I need to be bedridden.)
  6. My children's clothes are mainly second-hand. They have been given to us by extended family members who like to buy their children new clothes in the latest fashion every season. The average number of previous wearers of my children's clothes is 2 (before they start wearing them).
  7. I hoard jars. If I didn't hoard jars, I wouldn't be able to make my six-month supply's worth of tomato sauce, preserved olives, jams and fruit preserves. Like Rachel mentioned, if I find that, on opening a preserve, mold has formed on the top, I simply scrape it off. The rest of the preserve is used. If I didn't bother to take the time to preserve/freeze/use whatever we grow,...
  8. ... we would be spending another 50 euro extra a week on food shopping. Green 'smashed' olives in brine cost at least 5-6 euro a kilo (that will last a week in this house), stamangathi wild greens also cost 5-6 euro a kilo (we have substituted this with our own brocoli and cauliflower this year), and I have already used half the jars of preserved tomato that I made in the summer (that works out to about about 2 euro a week on tinned tomatoes). This doesn't include the frozen meals I prepare for when I'm too busy to cook a meal for the next day: I simply throw a tin of boureki, or moussaka, or pastitsio, or papoutsakia, or dolmadakia, or spinach pie from the freezer into the oven, let it cook, and try my best to remember to turn off the oven before I go to bed. This would add at least another 5 euro a week to my savings. (Because I save so much money on grocery bills, I never skimp on books and DVDs from Amazon; I feel I deserve it.)
  9. I do not recycle tetrapaks, plastic bottles and other recyclable household refuse, because my local council has not endeavoured to provide a recycling bin in my neighbourhood (even though there are such bins available in similar neighbourhoods. I feel I am justified in putting the blame on them. I do not feel that it is my duty to fill the car with recyclable trash (risking milk carton spills, tuna can smells, etc) to cart them off to another bin elsewhere. Most people in Hania are able to walk from their home to a nearby collection point to chuck out their recyclable trash. I do not feel obliged to drive my garbage to a bin; it defeats the purpose of a cleaner environment. I do recycle paper (I never buy my kids drawing pads), and I never, ever throw out my kids' unwanted toys or (second-hand) clothes: I take them to a church collection point or give them away. My cleaning lady (I couldn't write if I didn't have one of those coming in every two weeks) told me how grateful she was for the two huge bags I gave her which she took with her to Moldova when she recently visited her family.
  10. I never wear make-up.
Now that you know me a little better, you won't be too disappointed when I tell you that I have decided to take a break from blogging, after nearly 650 posts (320 on Organically Cooked, and 325 on One Day in Hania). From time to time, I'll be doing surprise updates on the blog, just to keep you on your toes. I'm tired, and I want to work on something different. I also want to do more reading (and writing; the blogs won't stop!) Feel free to keep in touch: mverivaki at hotmail com. To all my Greek readers, have a good Sarakosti.

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Sunday, 8 March 2009


I knew I needed a blogging break, but I didn't realise I had bronchopneumonia.


Life is a little rough at the moment - normal blogging to resume once I'm well.

Friday, 6 March 2009


No, this isn't London, it's Hania today, and a very foggy day it is...

foggy day