Tinned peaches. Just say 'beach'
A quiet life
Life is slowly returning to normal, with restaurants and shops open and beaches re-opening tomorrow. Our own days are quiet, metered by one neighbour with suspected Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour who waters her patio for 40 minutes in the early morning and afternoon and airs rather huge amounts of washing (we wonder if she’s inherited Demis Roussos’ Kaftan wardrobe). She also favours the outside privy right next to our house (despite having three and a half bathrooms in her own mansion) and early mornings are punctuated by flushing sounds and alarmingly methodical ritual opening and closings of shutters and doors. Thankfully our jasmine and rose bushes are growing, providing a fragrant screen and I’ve even managed to put together an early summer bouquet of garden flowers in a small vase. Apart from the roses which I recognise, don’t ask me what the others are!
Bizarre lockdown conversations in Greekish
My lack of Greek is a shameful indictment but it is amazing how one can manage with a few words and gestures (and knowing how to say ‘idiot’, AKA ‘malaka’ in Greek). Lockdown has made for some interesting social distancing conversations with neighbours in what I call ‘Greekish’. This was the latest bizarre instalment after we’d been out for a half day (Greeks are very nosy) and we’d noticed there were some definitely close gatherings at the café in the nearby village of Lazarata.
Neighbour: ‘Where have you been?’
‘Beach. With friends. And dog’.
‘You went for a long time. Did you eat? Where did you eat?’
‘At our friends’. You know them. Our friends with the restaurant.’
‘Did you eat AT the restaurant? Is it not closed?’
‘No. We ate at their house.’
‘Mmmhh…’ Then a long pause.
Me: ‘You know the café on square at Lazarata? Is it open? People there’.
‘No… it’s only open for take-aways’ (me thinking ‘funny that, as over the last few days there has been quite a strong number of old folks and chaps sitting at the table, not socially distancing for hours on end’).
‘Ah, I see, it’s closed, hey…mmmhhhh’.
However, the weirdest conversations are probably the ones I have with foster dog Amee during our walks (yes, she’s still here. A second adoption request has fallen through so the poor girl is stuck with us. To be honest, she’s a rather welcome and lovely – if a bit smelly – addition to the family).
‘Hello, Miss Amee, how are we this morning? All good? Ola kala? Alors le chien, tu vas bien?’
No, I don’t have any treats, I forgot them, so sorry, Amee. Yes, you can sniff here. HAPPY dog! GOOD dog! NOOO (oops, I’ve forgotten I should say ‘HA’ in a Yorkshire accent like the dog trainer on the telly does). Leave IT. HA. HAAA…DROP it. Why do you want to eat crap off the floor at times, don’t I feed you enough, you don’t like your croquettes and treats?’
‘It’s windy, Amee.Your nose is twitching. What can you smell on the wind? Ooh, I see, there’s a bird in that tree. There’s no way you’re going to get him. I know, he’s still worth a try. Aaarghhh… (high pitched voice), no, don’t go there. It’s full of snakes and we don’t want snakes do we?’ (that’s when we both run away as fast as we can, Amee a lot more niftily than me).
‘Come on, Amee. Ooh, that’s the gay shepherd in his red car. He’s nice, isn’t he? He cut the grass in your favourite field so you could go and sniff further. Now, girl, you haven’t done a poo yet. We’ve been round the block three times. You stubborn thing, come back, come BACK. BACK! Good girl, well done. Treat? You sat on a patch of grass in a field for half an hour, refusing to move last week when I was sweating with the sun beating on my neck and we’re NOT doing that again. What? You want a bit more sniffing to find the ‘right’ poo patch? You want another ten minutes? Fine. I’ll wait’.
‘Halleluiah, CLEAN DOG, GOOD DOG, well done, girly-girl, well done. Shall we go home now?’
‘You wanna go up the hill? Are you sure? It’s really steep up there and last time you saw a fox and it was hard work stopping you from running after it. Oh? You’re sure. OK, then. Let’s walk up the hill’. NOOO, don’t put your noise in there, it’s snakey. We don’t like snakey places, do we? Oh no, we don’t!’
‘Come on, let’s go… let’s go home and watch Netflix. Don’t look at me that way. What do you mean? You want a belly tickle instead?’
First restaurant outing…
Lockdown is easing but with clear restrictions and a stage-by-stage timetable. Restaurants are now open and we made a point of going to our favourite seaside fish restaurant, Seven Islands in Lygia, on the first day they opened. Grilled sardines, hooray, and prawns, and lashings of white wine and sunshine. We were the only people there (good as this was also a trial run for taking Amee out. She made a friend called Dino. There was a certain amount of bum sniffing and tail wagging and nose-to-nose kissing.
Dino’s a dog, as you’ll have guessed. We raised a glass to absent friends, especially our sailing friends Issy and Andrea who are cooped up at home in the UK.
When we were self-isolating, worried I would not have enough fruit, I asked Panos our taxi-driver-cum-personal-shopper to buy some tinned peaches. He brought back two massive tins and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Somehow I remembered a good old Belgian dish ‘pêche au thon’ – basically, a tinned peach halve filled with tuna mayonnaise (and very tasty it is) so I adapted it into a salad but this time with cooked chicken and chunks of mozzarella and slices of toasted bread with garlic and oregano. It’s even better with real peaches just lightly poached and cooled but the tuna HAS to be tinned, don’t try with your best tuna steak.
Golfie’s back. Say ‘beach’ and she’s off
The Captain has helped fund the VW Golf Preservation Society by having to refurbish the gearbox and buy a new differential. Not cheap! The gearbox – itself a replacement bought two years ago – went off to Thessaloniki for a rebuild, replacement of bad parts and returned with a 2-year guarantee. Theo the local mechanic refitted it and the car now purrs along, and no longer drips oil onto the front patio.
The dog totally loves being in any car. She dribbles a bit over the rear windows, but just constantly sniffs the air with her nose twitching like crazy. Of course, she loves the beach. And we only have to say ‘beach’ and she is almost putting her own lead on. At the beach it is a sniff-fest, with old kelp being a favourite sniffathon. She likes running in and out of the water and we think she would love to actually swim, but is nervous of the big waves.
She is marginally less nervous of The Captain and as this is written has allowed him to take her out for a walk on their own, without supervision or a dog psychologist present (AKA ‘The Mistress’). She also occasionally allows him to give her a tickle under the chin. But it clearly has to be on her own terms – she is obviously a well-brought up lady!
Has The Captain been on the secret Mythos again? His ever-expanding railway now boasts a full set of crop circles as well as a hearse (not sure there is a relation here except, perhaps, if the Little Green Men take you away and replace you with a blood-sucking zombie – but that may be another story).
So there we are, happy and wondering where the time has gone as we’ve been here over two months already. We know most of you are basking in sunshine and you might be interested to know it’s raining cats and dogs here (the dog is curled up on her mat by the window giving me the ‘why don’t you take me out?’ look so I’d better get my sailing jacket out of the cupboard and oblige. Lots of love, Mxxxxx