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!