Saturday, December 31, 2011

Catholic Church Bazaar in Heraklion

One for the road - may all your wishes come true.

My wish came true when I was asked to the Catholic Church Bazaar in Heraklion.

The streets were busy and there were plenty of Christmas lights.

Lydia lent me a festive jumper and I wore my mistleoe tiara.

Thanks to the organizers I was able to have my wish granted. And they enjoyed the music so much that they have asked me back for Easter.  (It was worth all that practice!)
So, what a way to end 2011 (okay it isn't over till the fat lady sings). Lydia and Mark have organized a party at the Cosmos Bar in Vrahassi tonight. It is New Year's Eve and raining, but we are determined to end 2011 in style, somewhere. I have to say that from past New Year's Eve events in Vrahassi, I do know not to expect too much. I remember the Millenium, when the whole world was partying - Vrahassi was dead. There was no-one in the streets and I was so disappointed that we went home and set the keyboard up on the roof. Come midnight David and I had our own party and I blasted out new-age music over the rooftops. I wont be doing that tonight.

I am happy to be moving forward into a New Year. 2011 did have its moments though. We had a wonderful summer with our daughter and grandson, and their friends Sooz and Eliza, and then Jack's dad John joined us for a week. And in October we went to England where we spent time with our son, David, and his lovely family, Tracy and two granddaughters, Star and Jade. And, what a wonderful thing it was to be able to see our daughter Joanne receive her degree at Greenwich University. My sister, Joanna and her family looked after us so well, and we even managed to see our dear, dear friends, and other members of the family. If we missed you out, sorry, but there is only so much you can do in a couple of weeks.

2011 has been a year of hard work and no work. It has been a year of two dogs then four dogs. It has been a year of bad health and brilliant health. The Greek austerity measures have hit us financially, but hey, it costs nothing to smile. I have been touched by the actions of one or two people, I can tell you.

So, onwards and upwards! Our motto is 'Just Do It' so watch out 2012. There's a lot of 'Doing' to be done. I have this wonderful vision of book number two being finished, and being a big hit. I can see myself playing in Heraklion again, maybe next time with other musicians. My body is shaping up with the continuing exercise programme - remember the 7 minute workout? Well watch out for photos of the new me. I am going to grow my hair long and face the future with attitude. Attitude that shouts out 'I AM SO LUCKY'.

I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve wherever you may be. And I hope you get all you wish for in 2012. And remember, there is always some poor sod worse off than you are.

Love Jane x
P.S. I'll try to get some pics of the action but my camera is on the blink. I'll just have to vision a new one, it really is as easy as that.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Away in a Manger, Carol Singing in Neapolis, Crete.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Heavy Snow Up North - And Cold In Crete Too!

Inclement weather nationwide, heavy snow up north

22 Dec 2011

An inclement weather front hit the country early on Thursday, with heavy snowfall in the north of the country and on high ground in northern and central Greece, gale force winds and heavy rainfall in most parts of the country.

The bad spell is forecast to continue throughout Thursday in all parts of the country, with heavy rain and snowstorms on high ground and plains in northern and central Greece, with the main thrust in western Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, the northern and eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese Islands.

The bad conditions are expected to subside late at night in the northern Ionian Islands and the central and western mainland.

The severe weather conditions are expected to improve Friday in the northern Ionian Islands and the central mainland, but will continue throughout the rest of the country.

By Friday afternoon, the bad weather is expected to recede gradually in western and northern Greece.
Temperatures will remain low throughout the entire country until the middle of next week.

Something tells me that I will need to wear my woolie tomorrow when I go to Heraklion with Lydia and Diana. Never mind, I am so looking forward to getting a little taste of Christmas lights, and hopefully a little taste of Christmas vino too. Whoo Hoo! Might even see Father Christmas!
I may not get to blog again before Christmas, so to all my friends out there, HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!

Let's hope the rain holds off a few more days, it is looking very dodgy. High winds are forecast for tomorrow. It won't stop us having our carol singalong on Saturday, we will be inside the Oasis Bar in Neapolis if the weather is bad.

I may not have many trimmings up in the house, but I have got my priorities right - a piece of mistletoe is hanging from the little angel in the centre of our stone arch. And it might be a cup of tea if you pop in (there is not much in the line of booze this year) but my Christmas cake tastes fine (once the burnt bits have been sliced off that is). And, as you see from the photo of Lefteri's cafeneo, there is always traditional Vrahassi cheer to lift the spirits! Oh, and be warned carol singers, I spent your coppers down the market yesterday, so you might have to make do with a peppermint cream. (Home made naturally). I must say that I have had a great time trying out new recipes this week. Did you know that if you pour hot melted dark chocolate over cold yogurt and mix it together, it tastes delicious. While we are on the subject of food, I managed to purchase a frozen duck from Liddle's yesterday, so that's our Christmas treat. By the way Jayne, we are missing your pie!

I'm looking forward to 2012 the uncertainty certainly is exciting. Maybe I will get that second book finished, maybe I'll write a prize winning poem, maybe I'll pass my Grade 5 on the cello. What am I talking about? There is no 'maybe'. I WILL DO all of those things. (Providing the world doesn't end). Love to all, wish you were here to kiss me under the mistletoe. I'm sending you my kiss... include me under yours. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE ANY MISTLETOE? It's Christmas, go out and find some right now! Love is THE most important thing in the whole world. MWAAAAAAH! xxxxxxxxxx LOVE YOU, Jane x

Monday, December 19, 2011


Seems like they were having fun in Agios Nikolaos yesterday, too. I particularly like the children singing.

A Taste of Christmas Music

We had a great afternoon at our friend's house, Gavin and Rosemarie's, yesterday. Loads of good food, in the sunshine, watching the Griffon vultures circling over Anavlohos. Now I have to get some practice in for Saturday.

I've been in the glums a bit, but just lately true friendship has really made me realize how lucky I am.
What have I got to be miserable about? Nothing! God, anyone who has access to so much chocolate on one day, should never complain about a thing. I'm going to get the Father Christmas hats out of our store right away - tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la lah, la la la lah!

I hope the weather is OK for Christmas, especially Christmas morning when we have our Christmas Swim morning in Malia.

Anyway, have a good run up to Christmas whatever ye may be doing.
Love Jane x

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cretan Transport

No, it isn't us bringing home supplies, but there are still one or two of these motors around. At least they are good for the narrow winding streets of Vrahassi. Unfortunately the Vrahassi donkey is no more. There are one or two around Kritsa and a few on the Lasithi Plateaux. Most farmers these days have 4 x 4 pickup trucks, but with the vehicle tax increase that may change. I certainly have to think twice about a journey because of the price of petrol.

Anyway, today is our son David's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JNR. He was born in 1969 so work it out. It was the year that man set foot on the moon for the first time. I remember sitting up most of the night to watch the event on my mum's TV. There were no mobile phones, no computers, and in our house, no TV. How things have changed!

I am going to make some pepermint creams today. The weather is once more glorious if a bit nippy. Clear blue skies. Tomorrow we are off to a party at our friend's house. Then it will be the run up to Christmas. I somehow don't think I'll be running anywhere, but it will be good to see what other people are up to. There are already one or two Christmas trees twinkling away in Vrahassi houses. The two cafebars in the center of the village are festooned with a few colourful strings of lights, and I did see a model of Father Christmas clinging on to a balcony. Nice!

So, that's all today. Enjoy your Friday,
Love Jane x

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Punch and Judy

Christmas Pantomime. One for the memoirs!

Greeks Seek Rural Life

7. STRIKES Pharmacies will be closed across the country today in a 24-hour warning strike called by the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association, which has also threatened to suspend all credit to social security funds – meaning they will charge customers the full price for medicines - as of New Year’s Day or earlier .

Will Vrahassi begin to grow again?

Crisis-hit Greeks leave the cities for a new rural life

By Eve Szeftel
Uprooted by a national debt crisis and a deepening recession that has eaten up their jobs, incomes and pensions, many Greeks are now returning to their families’ rural past in search of a future.
Just as young graduates are moving abroad rather than risk joining the 18 percent of Greeks who are out of work, families struggling to maintain their living standards are looking for a simpler life away from the city.
Elisabeth Kokoreli and her husband Vanguelis Tsaprounis quit Athens earlier this year to live permanently in their second home on the island of Evia, where he grew up.
Although they had long been thinking about a change of lifestyle, they were forced to act after the cost of raising a family in the capital, at about 3,000 euros ($4,000) a month, far outstripped their earnings.
Now, their two daughters are settled in the local school in Vassilika and Tsaprounis, a 42-year-old painter, has set about learning the farming skills needed to make the most of the land that he has inherited.
”I am very happy,” said Kokoreli, a 40-year-old dance therapist. ”We have a better chance at a future here. In Athens, it was a constant struggle.
”It has been a big change for me, but I like this new way of life.” Her family is part of an increasing exodus from the cities to the villages, reversing a trend dating back to World War II which has seen the population of Athens triple to four million -- two-fifths of all people living in Greece.
Agricultural labour has surged seven percent since 2008, while people who work on the land now make up 12.5 percent of the active population, compared to 11.3 percent in 2008.
Many of these new recruits are middle-aged, like Ambroise Santamouris, 50, and his partner Adriana Flores, 52.
They are both journalists but have seen their industry decimated by the recession, which will next year enter its fourth year.
Santamouris lost his job at a private radio station in 2010, and in January they decided to move to the island of Tinos in the Cyclades, where he has inherited a house by the sea.
For the couple, the move was a ”question of survival”, he says, as well as an opportunity to change the way they lived.
”Most of the things that we thought were important, and which reflect your position in society, turned out to be worthless. And we couldn’t afford them anyway,” Santamouris said.
Although he would rather have retired to the island when he was ready, the prospect of finding another job in Athens, where a quarter of the 8,000 journalists in the city are set to lose their jobs this year, forced his hand.

I cannot let yesterday go by without mention of the fact that David and I once again spent the day at the Court in Neapolis. Of course it was he who shall not be named, rearing his ugly head. This time the case was thrown out. I think the words were to the effect that there was no case to answer. Still it was a bit of a strain on us. We did have a celebratory drink with friends after, and we were in bed by 8 o'clock. It was funny really, because by 3 a.m. we were wide awake. Back to normal today - whatever that is!

I am busy practising for Christmas Eve morning, when Julie (the flute) and I shall be playing Christmas Carols in Neapolis. So, back to it.

Love Jane x 

Monday, December 12, 2011


Kiria Maria, age 74, lived alone. Her body was found by firemen early this morning, after a fire engulfed the whole of her house. She had not been well for some time. It is a possibility that an electric heater was the cause of the fire. Rest in peace, Kiria Maria.


Δευτέρα, 12 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

Τραγικός θάνατος ηλικιωμένης μέσα στις φλόγες στο Βραχάσι σήμερα το πρωί

Άσχημα ξεκίνησε η εβδομάδα στο Βραχάσι του Δήμου Αγίου Νικολάου.. Μία 74χρονη γυναίκα βρήκε τραγικό θάνατο μετά από φωτιά που εκδηλώθηκε στο σπίτι της κάτω από άγνωστες μέχρι τώρα συνθήκες ..
Η πυροσβεστική Υπηρεσία κλήθηκε λίγο πριν τις 6.00 το πρωί και όταν το κλιμάκιο που έσπευσε κατέφερε να σβήσει τις φλόγες αντίκρισε το αποτρόπαιο θέαμα της νεκρής γυναίκας..
Στην περιοχή σπεύδει και ο ιατροδικαστής...
Σύμφωνα με τα μέχρι τώρα στοιχεία η φωτιά μάλλον ξεκίνησε από την σόμπα που είχε στο σπίτι η ηλικιωμένη προκειμένου να ζεσταίνεται . Να σημειωθεί ότι η 74χρονη έμενε μόνη της

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I thank whoever is responsible for making this video. The music is wonderful, and the pictures are fantastic. Braxasi is a beautiful place to live.


It's an absolutely beautiful day in Vrahassi. David and I sat out in our little courtyard and had a perfect Sunday lunch of baked beans on toast, followed by my own baked oat biscuits. I spent the morning doing my cello practise, and I am now about to do a spot of writing. We shall talk to the family this evening on the Skype + webcam - always a joy!

While I am on the blog, I'd just like to say 'hello' to all of my readers, some of you I know, some of you I don't know. I do know that you may be in America, England, Germany, Australia or New Zealand, plus a host of other countries. When I sit here in my little house looking out onto Anavlohos mountain, the rest of the world seems very far away. But when I see the map detailing where all my viewers are, it seems very close. So, whether you are in fact in Vrahassi yourself, or further away, whether you are English, Greek, American, German, French or Swahili (is that spelt right?). Whatever and wherever you are I love you all. Thank you for taking an interest in my blog,

Love Jane x

And to the Gang and Eric, I thought of you as I was heaving on the big knickers this morning, and I hope you are all well.

Big knickers are big business for UK firm

A Cornwall-based mother and daughter are making a big success of making big underwear.
There is an increasing demand for larger-sized garments in the UK, and around the world, and business is booming.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


So, there's no chocolate in the house, let me see, grapes, they are good for my diet. How abou this 'grapey' recipe? Hm, just a mo while I beg a bunch of roses from my neighbour. All I can say is, it must be the full moon that's driving me crazy! Better just drink the cup of water and get to bed before I attack the buscuit tin. It was a nice thought though. Exercise day tomorrow.

1 kilo grapes, washed and without stems
½ kilo sugar
1 cup water
A couple of pelargonium rose flowers/leaves
5-6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan to boil on a low fire. As soon as it boils remove all foamy scum. Cook it on the fire until it picks up some colour and the syrup thickens. Afterwards remove flowers/leaves and store preserve in jars.


(December, 2011)

With a feeling of optimism, stores in major cities throughout Greece, including Iraklion, will be extending their opening hours for the Christmas shopping rush as of Thursday, December 15.

Thanks to The Khronicles on line newspaper for this information.

Stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on regular weekdays until December 30, while on Saturday December 17, 24 and 31, retailers will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and, on Sunday, December 18 they will be serving shoppers from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Regular hours will resume on January 3.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


This is what I was doing yesterday, when I should have been doing the ironing!

The lights were twinkling on my tree,
As Christmas Eve descended,
I’d made the cake, the Christmas pud,
And praises duly rendered,

A tot of rum for Santa Claus,
And a lovely warm mince pie,
I placed beside the burning fire,
For that hungry passer by,

And then I noticed something wrong,
It was quite a mystery,
A little sheep had disappeared
From the toy Nativity,

Joseph still watched over Mary,
Jesus was there in the hay,
A small group of shepherds gathered
With wise men from far away,

The cattle were lowing softly,
A bright star above them shone,
Every character had its place,
Except the sheep, which was gone,

We can’t have Christmas without her,
I thought, she’s there every year,
The stable has to have a sheep,
Without it, it looks quite bare,

So I started to search the house,
For that little missing sheep,
I rifled through cupboards and drawers,
I upturned things in a heap,

I looked around the skirting board,
Down the sides of the settee,
I emptied the waste-paper bin,
Moved things underneath the tree,

The sheep had spirited away,
And the house was upside down,
I just couldn’t understand it,
The thing was not to be found,

And then Dave came home from the pub,
As happy a man could be,
He looked at the mess. I explained,
‘I can’t find the sheep, you see.’

‘Ah the sheep’, he said quite coyly,
There’s something you need to know,
I took it for a little walk,
For a change of air, Ho! Ho!”

He pulled his hand from his pocket,
Clenched his fist tight, gave a sigh,
Then slowly opened his fingers,
To reveal the sheep inside,

I was so happy to see it,
There was no anger at all,
We both just fell about laughing,
And placed the sheep in the stall

We shook our heads and looked around,
Our home was in disarray,
What mattered most, the lost sheep was
Found, in time for Christmas Day.

©Jane Sharp

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Some years ago, a small rural town in Spain twinned with a similar
town in Greece. The mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town.
When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor, he
wondered how he could afford such a house.

The Spaniard said, "You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a
grant to build a two-lane bridge, but by building a single-lane bridge
with traffic lights at either end, this house could be built."

The following year, the Spaniard visited the Greek town. He was simply
amazed at the Greek mayor's house... gold taps, marble floors, it was
marvellous. When he asked how this could be afforded, the Greek said,
"You see that bridge over there?"

The Spaniard replied, "No."

Thanks Maurice for circulating this one, I love it. Jane x

THE VRAHASSIAN, Life in Crete.

Love Jane x

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Thought it might warm you up on a cold winter's night.

Vrahassi was a little busier today, a housewife was scrubbing her rugs in the street, an old man was home alone on the street bench, the van-man who sells big knickers was drinking raki while his wares wafted in the mountain breeze, and an old farmer grimaced at me when we met bumper to bumper on a road designed for donkey travel. Being polite, I backed up of course. I did smile at the old guy, but he wasn't looking, must have been having a bad wife day.

I spent a very pleasant hour rehearsing for tomorrows little concert. Fourni was not much busier than Vrahassi, but just as cold. Passing through Neapolis I saw a lone policeman on a motorbike, maybe he was staking out a joint!

Oh and apparently no-one wants the cafeneio in the square (Vrahassi) so Yannis is to remain 'mine host' for the duration. A laugh a minute that will be!

Hope you were amused by the video, there was no mention of Greek people in Hell, mabe that's a whole new skit.

See ya,
Love Jane x
P.S. Thank you for your donations, 2 euros goes a long way when you're from Yorkshire!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Eurogroup signs off on 8bn euro aid payment

29 Nov 2011

Eurozone finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to release an 8bn euro aid payment to Greece, part of an 110bn euro package of support agreed with the government last year, an EU diplomat said.
The joint EU/IMF payment is the sixth installment of loans to help Greece finance itself since being cut off from financial markets. Without the payment, the country risks going bankrupt.
The payment was dependent on a written commitment from Greece that it would meet its obligations to cut its budget deficit and keep finances in check.
"The Eurogroup endorsed the payout of the sixth tranche to Greece", the diplomat said.
The payment has been held up for a month because of delays in Greece's commitment to cut spending and increase taxes. (Reuters)
Meanwhile I was cooking a steak and onion pie, a broccoli flan and a roast chicken in case the electricity is off tomorrow, strike day. 
Jane x

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


UK’s Plan B to Aid British Expats in Case of Euro Collapse

Posted by keeptalkinggreece in Economy
Is the euro really collapsing? Does the euro zone near the end? I can’t answer these questions but the Britons allegedly prepare their Plan B to help British expats through the collapse of the common currency, collapsing of the banking system and outbreak of riots. British The Telegraph in an article Prepare for riots in euro collapse, reports that the Foreign Office and the Treasure  confirmed ”earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way ” as the  Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out.
British ministries seem to consider a euro collapse as an issue of a “matter of time”.
Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest.
Greece has seen several outbreaks of civil disorder as its government struggles with its huge debts. British officials think similar scenes cannot be ruled out in other nations if the euro collapses.
Diplomats have also been told to prepare to help tens of thousands of British citizens in eurozone countries with the consequences of a financial collapse that would leave them unable to access bank accounts or even withdraw cash.
There is also the potential for social unrest: embassies and consulates have been told to prepare for a flood of inquiries and requests for help if the euro stops working in some countries and other currencies have to be introduced (there are a million Britons in Spain alone). Fortunately, the government can keep liquidity flowing at home in an emergency, thanks to the UK retaining its own currency. source: Telegraph
It's all a bit scary really. Ignorance is bliss, but this will affect everyone, and heads in the sand will get their backsides kicked!

Vrahassi was very quiet today. David and I popped into the cafeneio for a drink, we sat outside looking on to an empty street. A couple of old men were perched on the old bench by the statue. The travelling fish man stopped but had no takers for his fish. He was not a happy man. I had a word with Papa Niko, he was not a happy man either. The school taxi dropped off a couple of kids; a scooter carrying 3 people puttered past. Only David and I remained in the silence of the afternoon. The sun was warm, a slight breeze shook the young trees which masked our mountain view. Abandoned cafeneio chairs stood guardian to a heap of firewood, and we drank up and left with no one to say good bye to. We had obviously missed the rush hour!

Jane x

Monday, November 28, 2011


Property tax rules promised as protests surge

28 Nov 2011

Consumers wait in line at a branch of Public Power Corporation (DEI) to pay their combined electricity and property tax bill (Reuters)

Consumers wait in line at a branch of Public Power Corporation (DEI) to pay their combined electricity and property tax bill (Reuters)

The government has promised to detail rules by Tuesday on providing relief for low-income households facing the new property tax on their electricity bills.
Authorities are scrambling to keep the measure in place – and boost anaemic state revenues – amid growing protests and legal claims.
The finance ministry has said no homes would be disconnected until three-member exemption committees had been set up at every Greek municipality. The committees are likely to include tax officials and social workers.
At least six separate protests against the new tax are planned today in Thessaloniki, as more cases of bureaucratic blunders emerge.
The latest revelation came from the northern town of Grevena, where victims of a 1995 earthquake still living in converted freight containers were sent property tax demands. (Athens News/gw
As the likelihood of the euro collapse becomes more and more probable, I am watching the situation very closely. And I am seriously thinking of learning how to grow veggies. We certainly live in interesting times!

Love Jane x
P.S. And it's no good sending me food parcels, the post office is very unreliable. You could always buy me a pint however, just click the DONATE button opposite. I love you all, Jane x Cheers!

Friday, November 25, 2011


DEI TO DOUBLE DISCONNECTION to double disconnection notice The government will grant struggling consumers more time to pay emergency property taxes on their electricity bills, it has been announced. Under the new rules, the Public Power Corporation (DEI) will now wait 80 days, double the previous period, before disconnection orders are issued on overdue accounts. Ilias Plaskovitis, general secretary at the finance ministry, said no homes would be disconnected until three-member exemption committees had been set up at every Greek municipality. The committees are likely to include tax officials and social workers.

Information taken from the Athen's News today.


I thought you may like to have a little glimpse into how I celebrated American Thanksgiving. And here is a little rendition from my poet friend Lou.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine,
Love Jane x

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Please let me point out that I am not an expert at this training. I do not know the correct terminology yet, but no doubt will increase my knowledge with my fitness. The idea behind the videos are to show people of my age (60) that they can become fit from being really unfit. As the months go by I believe my shape will change, my strength will improve, and my general well being will be much better. If you would like to do these exercises I recommend that you take a look at the programme and follow the advice given. 7 minute workout. Happy getting fit. Love Jane x

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


Hi everyone,

It really is a beautiful day today! The sky is blue, the air is fresh, a warm November sun has brightened my back yard and my foot is on the mend. I shall be able to get around the village very soon to catch up with what is happening in Vrahassi.

One thing that I do know is happening in Vrahassi concerns the cafeneio in the square, the one which Yannis runs. Well, would you believe it, I was stopped in the street the other day, as I returned from Agios Nikolaos, and asked if I would like to take over the cafeneio. I replied very politely, 'No thank you.' Anyway, if you should be interested, or know of anybody who is, then please ask for further information at the council office in Vrahassi. I think Yannis last day is the 30th November - sombody please tell me if I have it all wrong.

Γνωρίζετε ότι μου ζητήθηκε να αναλάβω χθες το καφενείοστο Βραχάσι. «Όχι ευχαριστώ.», απάντησα ευγενικά. Αλλά ελπίζω ότι κάποιος θα το αναλάβει . Οι ενδιαφερόμενοι πρέπει προφανώς να πάνε στο τόπικό γραφείο του Δήμου στο Βραχάσι. Μου είπαν ότι ο Γιάννης θα το αφήσει στις 30 αυτού του μήνα. Αν ενδιαφέρεστε εξετάστε το.
I am going to do my exercises in a minute. This morning I helped David make a short video about his weight loss and how he has achieved it with the help of the 7 minute workout. You would think with all the physical work that he does, he would not need any other exercise, but he was quite unfit at the beginning of the summer. He has certainly changed shape, and has lots more energy. Unfortunately his video making skills proved to be a little more difficult. He spent the whole of yesterday trying to get it right only to find that his great (take 123) take refused to load into the programme selected. He was so stressed that he reached for a glass of raki (being the only drink in the house) and stormed off with the dogs in a sulk.

This morning he was up at a most ungodly hour, trying again. Hoorah! Only a few takes this time and then he left it to upload. Who needs alarm clocks when they have a man who bangs his fist on the desk and fills the morning air with a string of Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! and the occasionall Bollocks! It didn't work. I patiently got out of bed, washed, dressed and dared to enter the living room to ask if he wanted any porridge. Then I took hold of my little flip video camera, offered a solution that worked really well, and by the time breakfast was ready, the video was made, the house had cleard of all those bad vibes, and our beautiful day began.

Talk again tomorrow,
Love Jane x

P.S. To the Gang, my phone is only taking incoming cos I haven't paid the bill, so take it that your Angel letter is being returned via this blog instead. It was a lovely thought, and brought a little glow to the home. Love you lots. J x

Sunday, November 20, 2011


It's easy, just give them the right command. They just have to know where they sleep. Even Zouki doesn't get away with sleeping on the couch, not for long anyway.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Oh, and if you are having a relaxing weekend at home, take a look on Amazon for my book, there are some great deals, and it will make a wonderful Christmas present. Or you could download it onto your Kindle for a fraction of the price. Please excuse the blatant advert, but self-marketing with a zero budget is not too easy. Anyway, if you are thinking of that Christmas present with a difference, Tears from the Sun - a Cretan Journey is just what you need. Just click on one of the links on the right.

Love you all, Jane x


A few years ago David and a few of our friends took 2 weeks out to walk half of the E4 from the west of Crete to Heraklion. Next year I hope to join them when they complete the walk across the island from Fourfouras to Zakros. This is the route. So, depending on how fit we all are next September, we hope to cover a good portion of this route. Eric, how about house sitting our dogs while we hike up the mountains?

The E4-route through Crete
From Fourfouras the marked way to the refuge of EOS of Rethymno at the south slopes of Psilorotis to high 1400 m. The refuge is not always open. From Fourfouras until the refuge, the hike lasts 3,5 - 4 hours and the difference in altitude is approximately 1000 m.

From here the way leads north

Above the Nida plateau From here the way leads north through a rocky land steeply to the summit of Psiloritis -Timios Stavros (2454 m), reached in 3 to 3.30'. The area is arid and treeless. From the summit, one has a splendid view of the whole island. From the summit on a well stepped and marked path, one reaches & descends to the Nida plateau in 2,5 hours. Here the two branches meet again and proceed as a uniform path up to the east coast of the island. Above the Nida plateau is the Ida grotto (or Ideon cave), where Zeus was born by goat Amalthia according to the saga. 

Course of the southern branch

Course of the southern branch of the E4GR (traveling-part) from Rodakino to Nida. From Kato Rodakino north directly to the village of Agios Konstantinos (20,5 km - 7 to 8 hours). 3 km later the route bends to the alpine part of E4GR. Here Rooms, Motels.

From Agios Konstantinos

From Agios Konstantinos east to Kaloniktis, Ano Valsamonero, Armeni (15 km - 5 hours). Rooms - Motels. Graveyard dating from minoan age in the village.

From Armeni

From Armeni to the biggest part of forest-route - and field tracks through the village Selli (at the chapel Agia Fotini, where the route bends to Rethymno), Charkia and Kamvoussion to Arkadi (29 km - 9 to 10 hours). Motels, lodging in the monastery.

From Arkadi

From Arkadi through the villages Elefterna (Rooms, Motels), Kato Tripodio (lodging), Margariti (Rooms - Motels), Orthes (Motels), Kalantare, Kalamas, Passaline, Choumeri, Dafnedes, Episkopi, Garazo (32 km - 11 to 12 hours). Motels, shops.

From Garazo

From Garazo to Anogia through Moni Diakouriou (Diakouriou monastery), Zoniana, asphalted route to Anogia (16 km - 5 hours). Motels, lodging, Rooms.

From Anogia

From Anogia to Zomithos (11 km) and afterwards to Nida plateau (11 km), altogether 6 hours. The uniform long-distance-footpath E4GR here extends from the Nida plateau till the east coast. Despite its consistency, there are two branches at the start, from the village Kamares, where a grotto is situated, to the border.
Branch 1. From the plateau to the summit (approximately 1000 m), then south-east till a fork (ca. 2 km), where one must follow the branch eastward. After more than 5,5 km, the path reaches a forest, turns south, to chapel Ag. Ioannis, through Gafari canyon to the village Zaros (19 km - 5,30' hours). Hotel, Motels.
Branch 2. From the summit Timios Stavros, after approximately 5 km there is a marked forking of the path to Kamares (altitude 1900 m). To Kamares (9 km - 3 hours) - hotel, Motels, bus to Rethymno. From Kamares further to Vorizia (3,5 km - 0.50' hours), Zaros 9 km - 2.40' hours).

Zaros - church on the hill From Zaros

From Zaros (first branch) up to the chapel Ag. Ioannis (7 km - high 900 m), Gyristi (7,5 km - high 1700 M.), EOS refuge (3 km - high 1100 M.), Ano Asites (entire 21,5 km - 9 30' hours). Only coffee shops, bus to Iraklion.

From Ano Asites

From Ano Asites mainly on field and forest tracks, partially also on asphalted roads, hike to villages Kerassia (3,5 km), Veneraton (1,5 km), Kiparissi (7,7 km), Profitis Ilias (4 km). Motels, castle. Ano Archanes (9 km -3 hours), coffee shops, bus to Heraklion, Motels. Archaeological museum.

From Ano Archanes

From Ano Archanes to Kato Archanes (2 km), Myrtia (9,5 km), Astraki (1 km), Apostoli (11,5 km), Kastelli (4,5 km) (Motels, Bus to Heraklion), Xydas (3 km) (Motels, Bus - Archaeological area), Kastamonitsa (3,5 km), Kato Metochi (9,5 km), Psychron (3 km - hotel, Motels, grotto, archaeological museum. Metochi and Psychron lie on the plateau of Lassithi, 850 m high.

From Psychron

Lassithi plateau From Psychron through the Lassithi level to Agios Georgios (2,5 km), where there is also the refuge of the mountain climbers and skiers of Lassithi Club. The Vice president of the club is the priest of the village. Here, there is a hotel and Motels. From here the path goes south, one climbs to the saddle (1800 m) between the summits Dikti (2147 m) and Afendis Christos (2140 m). Before the saddle, the path bends east and proceeds descending to the Alm Salakano (17 km from Agios Georgios), where there is only a taverna.

From the Alm Salakano

From the Alm Salakano east to Prina (18 km-5 Stds - high 550 m), Masseleri (3,5 km), Vassiliki (15,5 km - high 100 m, deepest portion of the hike), crossing of the Ierapetra-Agios Nikolaos road to Monastiraki, again climbing the slopes of mountain Thripti to the village Thripti (high 880 m - 5 km-2 30' hours), further along the slopes of the mountain to Orino (high 650 m - 6,5 km), Ghryssopigi (6,5 km), Papagiannades (9 km), Chandras (4 km), Ziros (4 km), descending to Ano Zakros (250 m high- 11 km from Ziros), (rooms, motels) to Kato Zakros through the Valley of the Dead (5,5 km-7,50' hours). Rooms, motels. Places to visit: palace. Kato Zakros lies on the east coast of the island and is where the  the European long-distance-footpath E4GR of Crete finishes.

Well, that gives me something to get fit for!

It is Friday night, blowing a gale outside, and cold, but Dave and I are snug in our little Cretan house, the log fire burning away, the dogs asleep on the sofa, and tummies full of pork chops and chips. Tomorrow I will go to Agios Nikolaos to meet with my cello teacher and another student to celebrate the completion of 3 years music study. It does mean that I will have to miss my Greek lesson, however I have done my homework (and more) so hope I will be forgiven for not turning up.
I have dutifully done my 7 minute workout (don't laugh, it really is working) today, and looking forward to a lazy weekend.
Hope you have a good weekend too.
Love Jane x

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Recalling the Polytechnic 38 years on

by Damian Mac Con Uladh
17 Nov 2011

A tanks faces the Athens Polytechnic in the early hours of 17 November 1973 (file photo)

A tanks faces the Athens Polytechnic in the early hours of 17 November 1973 (file photo)
It’s November 17, the 38th anniversary of the bloody suppression of the 1973 Polytechnic revolt against the military strongmen that seized power in a coup in 1967.
Thousands of people are expected to march today in memory of that event, but also to reiterate the basic message of the student protesters: bread, education, freedom.
The online archive of this newspaper provides a wealth of accounts from eyewitnesses of that fateful morning in 1973 when tanks burst through the gates of the Athens Polytechnic.
In the hours surrounding the storming of the campus, 24 were killed and 886 people arrested.
15-17 November 1973: University students made history by turning the Athens Polytechnic into a rallying point of popular revolt against the military junta that had seized power six years before.
Using the slogan “Bread, Education, Freedom”, they drew huge crowds around the university campus, including a convoy of farmers on tractors from the town of Megara protesting at the junta’s acquisitioning of their land to build an oil refinery.
In the early hours of November 17 - ironically, International Students’ Day - the police dispersed the protesting crowds around the campus. A short time later, a column of ten army tanks and three armoured personnel carriers unloaded 150 paratroopers in front of the main gate of the university on Patission St. The remaining students standing inside the campus fences started shouting slogans “We are your brethren” for the soldiers to join them in their uprising.
“Listen up! You’ve got ten minutes to clear the university entrance and open the gates, or we’ll do it ourselves,” the commander-in-charge of the army and police forces surrounding the university told the barricaded students over a loudspeaker.
The students started chanting the national anthem in defiance of the officer’s ultimatum. At 2.30am, one of the tanks suddenly roared forward at high speed to smash its way through the university gate, injuring several youths standing behind it. Soldiers and police immediately entered the campus to round up hundreds of fleeing protesters.
Research carried in 2003 by the National Hellenic Research Foundation names 24 people as having been killed in and around the Polytechnic campus on November 16-18. A total of 886 arrests were made.
In 2003, the Athens News asked a number of foreign correspondents who reported from Greece during the junta to recall their experiences.
Nick Michaelian, who worked for Reuters during the dictatorship, describes the period and his encounters with people, including young girls, who were brutally tortured in the most shocking and degrading ways.
Those days were dark days. Plainclothes policemen from the dreaded ESA (Greek Military Police) arbitrarily arrested and beat up young people on street corners and threw them in cells and tortured them when they thought they belonged to some resistance group. Any left-leaning person was anathema. One day, two girls showed up at the Reuters office and, asking to be mentioned by name, lifted their skirts to show us their thighs and genitals badly swollen from torture and broomstick insertions.
These young people are the real unsung heroes.
For David Glass, who wrote for a number of newspapers during the junta’s rule, all was not what it seemed in the early days of the dictatorship. There was little talk of politics in public and many people seemed believed that if they simply ignored the colonels, they would be asked to stand down at some stage by the international community:
While people in the street talked about newfound stability and were saying that now that stability had been returned, George Papadopoulos and his junta would return to their barracks, the more I mixed with the journalist community, I realised an undercurrent of tension existed in all aspects of daily life. Politics seemed to be the only topic of conversation, though openly talking about politics was taboo. Much of the discussion was generated by rumours concerning politicians who were not even living in the country.
As well, music composed by people like Mikis Theodorakis and Stavros Xarchakos, who had become my favourites, was only heard behind locked doors.
And Bob McDonald wrote what it was like to report as a foreign correspondent in Junta Greece. At all times, the safety of one’s sources was a major concern:
Foreign correspondents worked in relative safety. (The one exception was the British reporter Ann Chapman who was murdered in unexplained circumstances while in Greece on a freelance assignment). The people who ran the real risks were the correspondents' Greek sources who could be arbitrarily arrested, detained without trial, exiled or brutally tortured if the regime felt they were in any way connected with the resistance.
In an article written in 2000, former Athens News staff journalist Allan Wilson retraced the hours leading up to the November 17. Wilson, who was on Patission St on that fateful night, wrote:
Neither I nor any other witness I have ever spoken to, will forget the unwonted sound of tank treads as an armoured column first hove into sight high up on Alexandras Avenue, heading for a Patission Street thronged with Athenians in a high pitch of excitement but expecting riot police, not tanks. The sight was greeted with a mixture of amazement, fear and sheer disbelief.
The tumult was deafening, as the scream of steel tank treads scraping asphalt and torturing concrete kerbs competed with the sound of people shouting and the sound of shooting as pockets of snipers took aim at the armour from the terraces of buildings adjacent to the route taken by the tanks – Mavromateon Street below Pedion tou Areos park, then Scholi Evelpidon Street, then a by-now fast-emptying Patission Street as the column headed for the Polytechnic.
Another eyewitness was the Dutch journalist Albert Coerant. In a piece penned in 2001, he recalled the many unremembered heroes of the junta period:
Indelible images from the past cross my mind on key dates of the year, like the tanks moving into the Polytechnic on November 17, 1973, and April 21, 1967 when the military first took over. Especially images of anonymous people - not the celebrities protected by their international fame, but the unknown and vulnerable who risked so much more by opposing the junta.
He also recalled the Athens News’ founder and his stance during the dictatorship. “One paper had a huge headline, ‘We should all fight for freedom...’ Underneath, in very small letters, was added ‘said Willy Brandt’, referring to events in then-divided Germany.”
In another article, Coerant, who worked as a correspondent for Dutch and Belgian TV in Greece during the military dictatorship, recalls the hours as the tanks rolled in:
And then the most horrendous and surrealistic scene of all; one which will never leave my mind. The tanks - more than 25-arrived; as if they had to annihilate a well fortified fortress and not a university campus full of unarmed children yelling for freedom. They came rolling in at about midnight. One enormous grey monster stood just in front of the gate of the Polytechnic. From the open turret an officer appeared with a pistol in his hand.
The students begged the army not to use force and not to harm them. The officer shouted down from his tank that the Greek armed forces would not negotiate with anarchists. In the Acropole Palace, children were crying and many were kneeling and loudly praying to God to stop the madness. One of the most incredible and shameful things was that at this very instant, as the children of Greece were about to die for freedom, in the same hotel, at a short distance from the oncoming catastrophe, a room full of two hundred people, mostly women but also some men, were playing cards, totally impervious to the clamours and weeping of the youth of their country.
He also relates the repeated visits in the years following November 17 from a Greek man who seemed very inquisitive about the night’s events. Coerant would later learn that the man, who had him that he had a son studying at the Polytechnic, was in denial: his son Diomedes Komnenos had been killed by a police bullet, fired at point-blank range at the gate of the Polytechnic on November 17.
Ylva Wigh of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter was another eyewitness. As she recalled in 2003, what she saw in the early hours of November 17 was so shocking that she was unable to speak about it for years.
Around 2 o'clock on that same night when the tank had broken into the Polytechnio and the last edition of my newspaper had gone to print, Dinos [Mitsis, former news editor at the Athens News] and I went down to the scene. From taxis, cars and open windows, we could still hear the cries for help from the radio station that the students had built inside the Polytechnio - a radio station that had a broadcasting radius of around five kilometres. For days now, it had seemed that everyone in Athens listened to that brave little channel - not even the most brutal of policemen had the chance to stop that.
Well, at that late hour, the streets were full of policemen, and we heard shots. Somewhere behind the Polytechnio, we rounded a corner and, from the horde of policemen, came a bullet passing one or two centimetres from our faces.
After that, my memories are like a surrealistic dream. We were shocked and didn't even mention our near-to-death experience. We went home to Kolonaki and sat, dazed, with the radio between us until around five o'clock in the morning when the last gasp was heard and the station was silenced.
So many things happened afterwards, and for a long time, Dinos went into hiding, chased by dictator Ioannides' police, probably for having helped to spread the news to Scandinavia.
I think it wasn't until a year after that that we talked about our near-death experience.
November 17 was the decisive event in the countdown to the collapse of the seven-year dictatorship a few months later. Journalist Mario Modiano of the Times recalled the night the junta collapsed, which was marked by the return of Constantine Karamanlis from self-imposed exile in Paris:
It was a night unlike any other night. The spectacle was magnificent and heart-warming. Above all, this was a rare occasion for a journalist to watch happy history in the making.
Constantine Karamanlis, the former prime minister, was coming home after 11 years of self-imposed exile in Paris. He had been invited to return and restore democracy in Greece.
It was one of those rare moments when all the Greeks agreed that he was the only man who could pull the country back from the brink of war, just as a seven-year-long military dictatorship was collapsing under the onus of its own blunders.
As I rushed to the airport by taxi before midnight, I could see hundreds of thousands of jubilant Athenians lining the road to Hellenikon to welcome their own Cincinnatus. Most of them held lit tapers as on Resurrection night.
It was a rewarding sight for a foreign correspondent who had watched with great revulsion and hurt Greece suffering the indignity of being railroaded for seven years by a band of uncultured and inept army officers
My thanks to the Athens News for this account.
Jane x

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Workers cut power to ministry; Samaras calls for exemptions

16 Nov 2011

Nikos Fotopoulos, president of Genop-DEI, speaks outside the health ministry on 16 November 2011 (Eurokinissi)

Nikos Fotopoulos, president of Genop-DEI, speaks outside the health ministry on 16 November 2011 (Eurokinissi)
The health ministry was left without power this morning after power workers cut the electricity supply in a symbolic protest against the government’s property tax.
The property tax is being levied through electricity bills. Workers complain that they are not a tax-collecting agency.
Unionists have repeatedly refused to cut the power of low income earners who cannot pay.
Trade unionists from Genop-DEI, which represents employees in the state-run Public Power Corporation (DEI), said that it was "unacceptable " that while the state owes the PPC 141m euros, it was at the same time "giving orders for the electricity supply to be cut to the poor, the unemployed and the small-pension earners".
In a statement, Genop-DEI said claimed the health ministry owes 3.8m in upaid electricity bills alone.
Recent court rulings have said that consumers cannot pay the electricity part of the bill separately. Therefore, if they fail to pay the property tax, the PPC must proceed to cut the power. The company has also ended a practice that allowed people to pay their bills in instalments.
"We will not allow it. We will stop, in any way we can, the cutting of power in the houses of the poor, the unemployed, the pensioner, the low-wage earner," GEnop-DEI president Nikos Fotopoulos told Net television.
"Electricity cannot be used as a lever for blackmail."
Genop said that PPC is owed a total of 856m in unpaid bills, a figure it expects to surge as a result of the imposition of the property tax.
Well done those workers who cut the ministry's electricity off. How come the government has been allowed to accrue such debts? The people who work in those offices should be out on their heals - and it comes from the top! I am already thinking about how to survive if I cannot pay my electricity bill. At least we have wood for the fire, so cooking is not a problem, or hot water. My computer, I would certainly miss, but hey, Valentino Cello does not need electricity. We shall have music, and maybe visit the cafeneo more - that is unless they are cut off too. Hm, it could be a challenge of a winter!
I have done my exercises today, and had my daily porridge, so now I am going to relax infront of the TV while I can.

Have a good evening,
Love Jane x

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Miss Starbeach 2011 Crete

If it's as grey a day with you as it is with me, thought you might like something to perk you up. To all you guys out there, enjoy a bit of Cretan summer. To all you ladies who want to look like Miss Star Beach - It's a very narrow window!

Probably back to the doom and gloom of politics, and the strain of my 5 minute workout, tomorrow. See you then.

Love Jane x

Hello Paul, I am just about to do my daily practice, vibrato!
Lovely doggies! You will know what I mean. Oh, and can't wait to see you, I nead some fingering sorting out. Byeeee!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Hello, Happy Monday!

According to a report in the Athens News today: 'In Greece, it still takes more than 10 days to start a business, about two months to get electricity, 18 days to register a property, and as many as 800 days to enforce a contract.'

And to close a business is also a nightmare. I am being charged 500 euro by the tax man to close the business I opened in Vrahassi, namely 'Jane Guevara's Revolution Bar'. It doesn't seem to count that the business never made a profit. And the problem is that I cannot afford to pay this debt and it will increase every month until I can. As I am still paying off the 500 euro charge for space to put my chairs and tables on the pavement, my debt will continue to increase. I should never have bothered!

 The fact is, that there will be thousands like me who just cannot pay anything. It is very depressing!

Here is what one of our MPs has to say about it.
by Kathy Tzilivakis

THE WARNING lights are flashing. Greece no longer has the luxury of waiting. Ruling Pasok MP Elena Panaritis says time is running out fast. 
In an interview with the Athens News, Panaritis draws on her extensive experience as an institutional economist who has worked at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She says the current mess is a rare confluence of both crisis and opportunity - a chance to remake the Greek economy. 
“What we really need now is to just bite the bullet and keep working hard,” she points out. “That’s all we need to do.”
Panaritis was one of George Papandreou’s top economic advisors. She was actually handpicked by Papandreou, who personally called her in 2009 to request she serve as one of Pasok’s statewide MPs. 
Asked about the government’s decision on a national unity government to lead Greece until elections, possibly as early as February 2012, she says it’s a “mature” decision. She also said Lucas Papademos, former Bank of Greece governor, is a “good choice” to head the new government.
“I think it’s a choice of trying to connect and unite the people from the bottom up so that we can proceed with the necessary structural reforms,” she explains. “The first job facing the new government is to establish systems by which we can rebuild our trust, not only between ourselves and the public, but with our [international] donors and other European Union partners.”
If this new unity government does its job well, Panaritis believes it could finally calm Greek politics.
Until then, however, Greece will continue fighting a losing battle against speculators increasingly betting that Greece will default on its debt. There’s far less consensus these days about whether Greece can avoid an imminent and rather messy default. 
Hardly anyone is expecting a big snapback. Europe’s patience has already run out. Greece’s exit from the euro - the common currency shared by Greece and 16 other members of the European Union - is now being openly discussed. 
This would be a nightmare scenario, according to the economist. She says that Greece’s coffers are almost empty. The country will go broke if it doesn’t get the 130 billion euro emergency funding (a bailout package agreed by the European Union on October 26-27) and a 50 percent writeoff of the country’s huge debt to European banks. 
“We will run out of money,” Panaritis warns. “We will default.”
Greece has so far succeeded in averting a domestic, European and international financial calamity. But for how long? 
In a July article in The Globalist, an online political magazine, Panaritis explained why Greece’s default would be a “catastrophe”. 
“It would not just be a bad turn of events, it would be a living nightmare,” she writes. “And I am being very honest when I say this. I know firsthand what it would be like. I have watched countries default back when I worked with Latin American countries in the 1990s and early 2000s while at the World Bank.”
As for the threat of Greece being evicted from the eurozone today, she says it’s “very real”.

Makes me long for a bottle of Beaujolais - better start running now!
Love Jane x