Saturday, August 28, 2010


Just a bump as I come back to earth, along with the other several hundred air bus passengers, and a sigh as I wish I had taken this trip years ago.
On the plus side, discovering still more secrets of Crete. One is the Best Western in Porto Venezione in Chania's old town, which is steps away from the Maritime Museum in a 15th century Venetian warehouse, next to a waterside cafe which serves fried fresh sardines with Greek salad. Then there is a lovely little garden attached to the hotel's bar where I sat in the cool and drank frappe for the last time. I shall certainly stay there next time I am heading for Loutro and that will keep me out of Sergeant Anastatakis' way.
Then there was the courtesy and kindness of airport staff. Chania does not have air bridges but now it has a special machine which lifts wheelchair passengers up to the plane entrance. And there was a procession of handsome Greek, Arab, and Australian men who wheeled me to and from planes, not forgetting the jolly Aussie blonde in Sydney and the New Zealand girl whose kiwi accent almost sent me into tears of homesoming joy.
And here is a free advertisement to anyone thinking of travelling. Give Emirates a try. I am going to devote a whole blog to them later. What Dubais is accomplishing is quite incredible. They have a literary Festival there each March. The last one attracted 100 writers and 25,000 people! As for their airport, a vision of sand blasted glass, chromium columns. marble tiled floors and space and coolness.
It is now 5 p.m. yesterday according to my body clock, and my skin is complaining because it has not felt this cold for four months. So goodnight, Kalinocte all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


EDWIN MORGAN born 1920 died last week. He was the first Poet Laureate for Scotland,wrote wonderfully imaginative poems with the main these of communication.I knew about him because of the Loch Ness Monster's song. But his website (just google his name } has a wonderful selection of his work. In particular the poem he wrote about being eighty:

Being Eighty
Edward Morgan 1920-2010

Push the boat out compaleros
push the boat out whatever the sea
through the boiling reefs black as they are
the enemy of us all makes sure of it!
Mariners! keep good watch alight
for that last passage of blue water
we have heard of and long to see
no matter if we cannot, no matter
in our eighty year old timbers
leaking and patched as they are but sweet
well seasoned with the scent of boards
long perished. Servicable still
in unarrested pungency
like distant ships in mist, or bell
clanging ruthless from stormy buoys.

And Edwin Morgan's definition of Poetry? Partly an instrument of exploration.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking pictures in bright sunlight when I cannot see the screen is disappointing. Maybe I need one of those cloths my father used to hide his head under when he was setting up his plate camera and we all had to hold our breath and NOT BLINK for an eternity before he pressed the little plunger that opened the shutter. These shots were meant to be of the hill that dominates the back of Kissamos, taken from the elementary school and the other was to show some of the useful Greek words I have learned looking at the street signs; good Greek words like 'Toyota Hilus',Honda, Motorent, and there is one on a garage door on the way to town. Parkn verbot.
I found another little bookshop in the shopping area to-day and bought a copy of 'Zorba The Greek' in English, plus a rather weighty tome about Crete which is not Lonely Planet or Let's Go! What would Jimmy Fitzpatrick say if he were making travelogues to-day?
'As our plane pulls away from the ground and the sun sinks slowly in the west we say 'Farewell'to the Island of Crete, birthplace of Zeus and countless legends renowned in literature.' But I don't suppose anyone reading this has ever heard of Jimmy Fitzpatrick who made travel films in the days when everyone had to go everywhere by boat.

Well to-morrow I shall head down the hill for the last time and rewind the road to Xania

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The yard was littered with dead leaves again but I ignored them and set off for the beach. This is my last Subday in Kissamos and I am not going to spend it sweeping up.
As soon as I turned the corner I felt the wind, not strong but cooling and the olive tree by the old Roman baths was shaking its silver green leaves and singing a little song of delight.As I walked from the museum down towards the promenade I could see long lines of white waves surging into the bay, and not a surfboard in sight. Nobody was drinking at the outdoor tables either, although plenty of people strode into the wind, relishing the cool.The cafes have not opened their big sun umbrellas. A little boy, about three years old,with black curls and olive skin chased the spray as it slapped above the sea wall. Voluptuous young women with long brown legs and short white dresses strode into the breeze, the wind lifting their long hair as they walked.
My lunch was a cheeseburger, with more garlic and onion than MacDonals would serve and an ice cold frappe. My bill was inserted into a little plastic tube so it would not blow away and I set a 2e 2x 1e and 2x50c beside it before calling 'Adiosa'to the waitress. I set off up the hill past the windmill which was spinning steadily.The a neat little house across the road stands on bare ground, the tomatoes, beans and eggplant I have watched mature over summer have been gathered, only some large green squash remained.
'Kalimera!'hailed a white haired Cretan in blue singlet,orange trousers and jandals as he strode past me up the hill.
'Yassu,'I replied.
A large black Mercedes car drove down the hill taking up most of the roadway, but I knew now about the tiny track at the very edge, near the fence where wild grapes rampage across the empty ground.
The old square was full of buses. The bread shop is closed on Sunday, but I stopped at the supermarket for olives and fetta cheese before heading up the hill.
Nowadays when I tirn on the computer I don't bother to switch it to English, I know what '├║sername and password'look like in Greek, even if I cannot pronounce them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


No photograph to-day, my camera batteries have died and it's too hot to walk in to town until this evening. However, the poets on Poetry Kit have been talking about 'found poetry'which is taking an extract from prose, arranging the line lengths as they would be if a performance poet was reading them, and either highlighting the original writer's intentions, or casting a new light on to the words. William Shatner did this to a Sarah Palin campaign speech, I was told.
One of the treasures left by a previous occupant of this cottage (along with John Pilger's 'Hidden Agendas'is Thomas L Friedman's 'The Lexus and the Olive Tree'a highly informative and entertaining treatise on globalisation.
Here is a 'found poem'fashioned from Friedman's prose, I have changed only the line lengths,

Straightlaced couple, pitchfork in hand
expressions controlled
stoically standing watch
in front of their barn

To twenty something software engineers
long hair, beads and sandals
rings in their noses, paint on their tows
they kick down your front door
stick a big mac in your mouth
slam a cable box into your television
lock the channel to MTV
plug an internet connection into your computer
and tell you
"Download or die."

That's us, we are
Apostles of the fast world
enemies of tradition
prophets of the free market
high priests of high tech

We want
a web site in every pot
a pepsi on evey lip
Microsoft Windows in every computer
and most of all
everyone everywhere
pumping their own gas.

found on page 384 The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L Friedman
Anchor Books 200, ISBN 0 385 49934 5

Friday, August 20, 2010


I have been trying to get a close up of this guy ever since I came here. It is the only thing left in the sculptor's yard now that the building is having one of its never ending makeovers.
Crete is the birthplace of Zeus, father of the immortals, but there are earlier legends if a matriarchal civilisation here before Zeus came along and spoiled it all.
I wish I had studied ancient Greece more at school, but being a good girl in the A stream I learned Latin and French which was interesting but not really of much utility.

Apart from the idyllic tideless sea and the horrific heat (40 degrees four days running) is Crete worth visiting? Definitely. There is layer after layer of history starting from mythological times. If I was, like my grandson Tom, at the start of my academic career I would spend my lifetime unravelling the legends and finding out the truths behind them. The wife of King Minos fell in love with a bull? and the result of their miscegenation was the minotor, so hideous he was kept i a labyrinth and fed on human flesh. If I was eighteen, like young Tom, I would be looking for the political realities behind that myth.
Then there is the Greek era followed by the Roman. I pass the ruins of Kissamos'Roman baths when I walk into town. They are over the road from the guy in the photo. After the Romans the Venetians who built strong walled forts all over the place, then the Turks, then the Germans and now the tourists.
If you have read this far and are thinking, 'Mmm, I might go there one day,'go now, while you are still young enough to drive a rental car on the wrong side of the road, walk 25ks through the Samaria gorge in one day, scramble arond moutain villages, where boys of my own generation helped fight the battle for Crete. AS I said layer after layer after layer of history.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


True, I like every kind of music, from massed choirs to brass bands to solo performers; from Handel to Hip Hop. Dizzy Doolan is a hip hop performer based in Brisbane,a joy to watch and listen to, a disciplined body that responds perfectly to rhythm and delivers incredibly sophisticated lyrics. Off stage she is quiet, polite and unassuming, a truly nice person. Meeting her was one of my learning experiences at word storm.
But much as I like music I can no longer be an indiscriminate listener because very loud noise hurts my ears and makes me physically sick. I found that when trying to listen to a rock band within the stone walls of Brown's Market at Wordstorm's farewell party. Where is all this leading? To Kissamos where else, where concrete houses are sounding boards jammed across narrow lanes, and they do peculiar things to sound, for example, the young couple arguing in their apartment three houses away sound as though they are in my goathouse. Motor bikes roaring up the main road to Xania sound as though they are driving through my kitchen and one frightening Satuday night I heard gunfire outside my gate. Nobody else seemed worried so the actual event was probably well separated from the sounds.
The posters were around town, in Greek of course, but obviously something was going to happen on August 17th which involved musicians with expressive eyes and sexy looks. Interesting I thought, and forgot about it. This morning at 3 a.m. I woke to hear faint beautiful chords and melodies which drifted in and out of my bedroom window. I got up and tried to locate the sourse, impossible, so I pulled a chair on to my darkened sundeck and enjoyed it anyway. It was very Greek,mainly strings without drums. Bazouki chords set me thinking of icy wind blowing through high mountain passes, twice a young baritone voice delivered a ,ournful song, but I had no idea what he was singing about.
Was it a Greek Rock concert in town? Maybe, but there was no applause between items, just the enchanting music and song. Maybe one of the neighbours had turned their television to a music channel? It didn't really matter, I sat in the darkness and enjoyed it all.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Papadakis is a taditional Cretan restaurant on the beach front. It has traditional Cretan food cooked and served by a traditional Cretan family. The best value in any language is their Greek salad, with fresh baked bread, 7 euros. It is a symphony of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and black olives, topped with fetta cheese and doused in olive oil. It is nutritious and satisfying, in fact when I have Greek salad for lunch I don't eat until next morning. Their terrace is inches from the sea, the breeze blows, the view is spectacular and the staff are fluent in English. Their wine is O.K. too but in the middle of the day I prefer orange juice, fresh squeezed.

Speaking of Mediterranean Cuisine, a couple of my daughters in law asked me where they can get a copy of the diet which has trimmed me from 96 kilos, size 24 last October to size 18 now. They themselves are slim, but their husbands tend to take after their mother and be cuddly. Well the book full of diet advice is free.Doctor Morehan gave me a stern warning after a blood sugar test showed what I considered a minimal rise in my level. His nurse handed me a little green book about living with diabetes, and I have been following its principles ever since. It is probably on the internet. And apart from the liberal use of olive oil with just about everything the Mediterranean way of eating fits right in with the recommended diet. Lots of vegetables and fruit, reasonable amounts of meat and protein, and no sugar,

Even my shoes are loose on me! It's a great feeling.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Frosty sunrises, sleety rain
lambs in paddocks, daffodils
Vogels bread with crunchy grain
looking at snow covered hills

My feather duvet, electric blanket
hot soup and toast, marmalade
a brand new shower room I'll have to thank
my neighbour Don whose skills have made
it possible. My office chair with padded seat
which swivels if I move my feet
and won't leave ridge marks when I sit.
I think I'm looking forward to it.

And the cause of my sore toe is my $200.00 sport sandala, bought especially for hiking in the heat. They have been rubbing, I now slop around town in the $20.00 boat shoes I bought at Marks and Spences last year and the problem has disappeared.


Sunday, August 8, 2010


I was just getting too cocky. I am so pleased with being able to read '├Ź'm feeling lucky'in Greek I don't bother any more to switch Google to English and so I missed an event I would have walked over the white mountains, sore feet and all, to see and participate in. (block your ears for a moment while I let off steam with as many four letter expletives I can remember, none of them in Greek.
I thought the beach front cafes were rather empty last Saturday, I assumed it was because the summer holidays had ended. I could not have been more wrong. At sunset 150,000 people, most of them in national costume made a line out of Chania, which is one hour's drive from here,and they danced, You remember Zorba? Greek dance is a very masculine thing. This was to comemorate Hiroshima Day and the organisers were trying, successfully, to set a world record for Greek dance.
Maybe there were posters on walls around Kissamos, I could not have read them, Maybe those vans driving through the town shouting at everybody were telling us about Hiroshima day, I could not know. I missed it, and when I get home all my neighbours who stay at home and watch satellite TV when they are not fishing are going to say, 'Oh, yes, Greek dance, saw that on TV.'


Thia photo has very little to do with to-day's blog. It was taken at Fogg Dam out of Darwin where we went to look at birds and crocodiles. It's relevance to my blog is the age of the people.We are oldies,and I am discovering that to-day's newsmakers have some oddly old fashioned ideas about us. We are not all gaga with senile dementia. In the above photograph is a major Australian poet, a painter, a French writer seeing the world, an English writer, and me. We are educated, and not afraid to express our opinions.
What brought this on? I was cruising the NZHerald's web page to-day and found a story about an old lady who had 'fought city hall'and won. It appears that her WOF had the wrong expiry date. When the city council sent her a notice of fine she wrote and explained and refused to pay the fine. She was shuffled around through the bureaucracy (Greece is not the only country full of incompetent buck passers) and her initial protest, that the city council had made amistake , was ignored. Then she was told $25 per week would be taken from her pension until the fine was paid.
Now, the conventional model of a nice old lady would have accepted that. but not this one. She sent e-mails to her M.P. the Minister of transport. That brought results and the money already taken from her pension has been refunded.
(Google NZHerald for the full story with photo)but it surprises me that a newspapwe finds a computer literate, logically thinking eighty year old newsworthy. What is news worthy is that she defended herself and won against the system. I am not surprised to find it took an eighty year old woman to do it.
We octogenearians are the 'Beeby brats'. We were the first generation to get free secondary education, and we have made use of it. We are the products of the first experiments in running a 'Welfare State.' We got free education. free health care,
we were paid an allowance to raise our children. Also we were the first generation to see a different world, every Saturday afternoon at the Regent, or the Paramount we saw children who sang and danced, heard music from symphony orchestras and jazz bands and saw newsreels of events we knew had happened. We are a pretty clued up bunch.
When I get back to New Zealand I am going to raise some questions, relax Sergeant Anastakakis, you are safe, but I want to know why my e-mails to the consulate general for New Zealand in Athens were ignored. And I shall keep hollering until I get sensible answers,

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Aren't they lovely? They were looking out to sea and I wanted to take a picture of them backside on, but my Greek was not up to that and I don't like taking pictures without permission.
To-day was so hot my eyes were stinging from the sweat dripping into them. I walked down to the beach, past the windmill and decided to lunch at a seafront cafe. Now the Greeks have gone back to work there are not a lot of tourists around. Anyway, for 9euros I sat under a shady umbrella a meter from the sea, and ate a delicious veal stew, full of onons and tomatos and countless herbs, plus the best part of half a loaf of fresh bread to sop the gravy up with and a bottle of ice cold water. It was a bit early in the day for wine.
The two Cretan cuties were playing along the promenade.
Behind them one sailboat with spinnaker set was sailling along the horizon, a welcome wind ruffled the water of the bay. It was worth the kilometre trudge down there just to feel the cool breeze, almost worth the trudge back up hill again.

Meanwhile back in New Zealand my second son, Richard is celebrating his 56th birthday. When I talk to any family they are all wapped up warm and complaining about the cold. Ha!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Thank you to the clever people who identified the pomegranite, Now we know what the Queen of Sheba's breasts looked like, remember the Song of Solomon? 'Thy Breasts are like Pomegranites.'

And I lunched today at another cafe in the old square, on the shady side because it was so hot. I ordered Moussaka and iced coffee. Their moussaka came in an individual terra cotta dish and had rather more meat that the one I ate at Petrakis. And it was salty, I have been drinking litres of water since I came home.


Can somebody tell me what this fruit is? It grows on a bush up the road from here, and I am curious.
And talking of fruit, vegetables and food in general I am experiencing some delicious adventures. If I ate in a different cafe five times a day I still could not try every cafe and restaurant in Kissamos, but here are some of my findings:-
BREAKFAST: a big bowl of Greek yoghurt covered in wallnuta and Cretan honey, yummy and filling, best eaten under the big shady tree in the old town square. Or a cheese pie with capuchino; the cheese pie is made with super short pastry and is probably incredibly unhealthy, but tasty.Or a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. The Greeks have a neat machine, where the operator throws three or four oranges in, sets a glass under the outlet, pushes the button and out pours fresh, fresh, fresh orange juice.

LUNCH: There are some cafes where the truck drivers and workers go to buy their lunch, like chinese takeaways in NZ. They serve plain, simple food which is usually on display in heated cabinets so I can indicate what I want. There is a green vegetable here rather like water cress which is tasty steamed with potatoes.
Then there is moussaka, spinach beattified by eggs, tomatoes and cheese; souvlaki, rotisseried meat cooked over charcoal, and hundreds of different kinds of fish, grilled, boiled, fried in batter or crumbs and of course the wonderful Greek salad which is a symphony of red onion, cucumber, tomato, olives and feta cheese served with a basket of fresh bread to mop up the olive oil.

DINNER; I don't know because Cretans like to eat late in the evening so I have not bothered with late dining.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Isn't this beautiful? I found it in the old part of town below the wall. It's in the garden of an old style house, and I just pray the developers marching across the landscape with their reinforced concrete and 'mediterranean' monstrosities don't knock it down.


We complain about resource consent and such but when I stroll around Kissamos I am grateful that we have some limitations on what people can do when they are building. The pink house in the next block of my street has one wall is set right across the footpath. We have to step out into the road to pass it.

Ivor tells me that the Greek government does not charge tax on a house until it is completed. That is why so many houses have reinforced steel sticking out of the roof, stairways leading no where, like a Mark Escher cartoon, and piles of rubble on the footpath. And houses have extra floors stacked on them like slabs of cake.

This morning my in box was full of commiserations about my sore toe, and suggestions for cures, thank you my friends in Darwin, Oamaru, Dunedin Liverpool and other places. I am eating lots of yoghurt and honey, but I had not thought od spreading some on the offening toe. I don't think I will try it, having seen the ant population here.

I am feeling rather virtuous. In spite of the aforesaid toe I walked down to the beach, taking a detour past the old town wall, and I saw not only the wall,but a windmill. shall post some morepictures in thenextblog.