Posts Tagged Easter

The way of the world

People are people the world over, right?

Well, yes, but the capacity to surprise/shock/upset never ceases to amaze me.

For instance – why is it that some people who, ostensibly, are committed to volunteering/helping a charitable organisation can be so foul to one another? Why does charitable work attract people who want to say “look at me – am I not wonderful helping the poor/disadvantaged/animals/whatever”. Why are they so competitive about it? The notion that one might just get on with volunteering without trying to get noticed or upset others is so strange to some that I really wonder why I bother. Charity work, to me, means just doing whatever is needed by that particular charity to the best of one’s ability and using whatever skills and talents are available. Is this so hard, really? I used to be employed (gainfully) by a small charity, and felt it really important to treat volunteers well; teamwork is a really important ethos in a world where no-one gets paid, so one member of a team upsetting several others can cause major difficulties. In the employment world, these matters are dealt with in a formal way (hopefully), but when everyone is a volunteer there is no mechanism to sort things out and it is, all too often, the case that those who have worked for many years in a particular role get walked over by those who think they can just take over, because they want to be “seen” to be involved – or, indeed, just because they want to do it, and to hell with everyone else.

Rant over – sore subject.

The sun has been shining on Greece the last few days; spring is here, though there is still a chill wind blowing, literally and metaphorically. There are more pension cuts on the way, apparently, and the annual tax free band is to be reduced, so people pay more tax – what with? The insanity of the Greek financial situation just deepens and makes less and less sense. How are people who earn less to be expected to pay more tax. I’ve read, today, that Greek household spending in supermarkets dropped by 13% in March, while inflation in the month reached 1.7%. This Easter’s feast looks as if it will be drastically reduced for many; the supermarkets have plenty of Easter “goodies” on sale, but I’m unsure how much is being bought. I suspect that there will be a big rush on Saturday to catch items marked down, because the shops will be shut on Sunday and Monday – I will be among the bargain hunters!

 

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What a week

I have to admit something which makes me “different” from a large part of the general population – I HATE noise! Last weekend was characterised by joyous Greek Easter celebrations. There were fireworks at midnight on Saturday, but these were over relatively quickly, and I know they are “traditional”, so that is fine. On Sunday, our nearest neighbours were partying most of the day – again fine, and I enjoyed the music coming across the fields as it was (mainly) of the “traditional” Greek variety, and I love Greek music, though I did find the reggae take on some of the songs a little strange! What spoiled the day was the continual letting off of firecrackers and some shooting. I’m at a loss to understand what this is about. I have tried very hard to absorb Greek customs since we’ve been here; although we will always be foreigners we feel welcome, and we understand the thinking behind most of what goes on, but the firecracker thing drives me nuts. We have dogs who are either terrified by it or view it as a challenge to bark at – all in all Easter Sunday was not a good day for us. Having said all that – in the UK we were in a built up area where there seemed to be more or less constant fireworks for some reason or another from Halloween until after New Year – why??

Just as we were recovering from that lot of noise then the wind got up – Tuesday night was the worst since we’ve been here. The forecasting websites we use said that the wind speed/Beaufort was force 7 or 8. I do not believe this – more like 9 or 10 was nearer the mark. Absolutely terrifying in its destructive power; I lost all of my precious seedlings and had some smashed pots, but we were lucky. The frames for the canvas awnings at our local branch of Lidl were bent in two – that is scary. We’ve seen the canvas ripped off in the wind several times, but never that.

Yesterday was a lovely day, and we managed to burn a lot of olive prunings, but it is windy again today, so can’t work outside. We have only until the end of the month to burn things, so just hope the wind will drop enough for us to finish. There are really stiff fines for having fires during the summer months, but there are always some people who do so – I wouldn’t dare risk it, even without the fine; after the wettest winter on record the ground is now quite dry and undergrowth would catch very easily. We’ve seen a couple of bad fires since we’ve been here and are very, very wary about the size of ours, even if it takes much longer to get the burning done.

The fields are covered with wild gladioli & orchids now. Since we’ve converted the land to organic production the number of wild flowers has gone up considerably. They are truly beautiful.

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Easter

We get dual Easter this year – last weekend the “Western” variety, and this weekend the Orthodox. I find it fascinating to learn more about the various different traditions of the Orthodox Easter celebrations – even though I’m not a church goer I can see how much this still matters to many people here. Special types of food are very important and everyone has their own family recipe for all the different elements of the Easter feast.

One of the things we enjoy is the special bread, Tsoureki. The version we make isn’t spicy like the type you buy in the shops, but is flavoured with orange, and makes wonderful thick, chunky toast! We first came across Tsoureki in Corfu – we’d gone there for an Easter holiday, but had got the date wrong, and arrived on Easter Monday! Went shopping for essentials as we were self catering, and bought bread in a bakery. This was wrapped & tied with gift ribbon and cost us about £5 – very fancy tsoureki! We learned to be a bit more careful what we bought after that.

I find the different varieties of Halva which are on sale in the shops now really interesting. To people who take the Lenten fast seriously, Halva is one of the few sweet things which are allowed. One of our favourite tavernas always brings out a plate of halva & fresh fruit after meals – it is good, but terribly sweet and somewhat indigestible on top of a meal! I think it is an acquired taste, frankly. I love Greek cakes of the baklava type, but some things are just too sweet for me.

Back to Easter – all the hardware shops are stacked high with barbecue paraphenalia at the moment, ready for people to cook their Easter feast, whether it is a whole lamb or something smaller. I’m hoping the weather is fine – it is always a great shame when people put in a huge effort to create a feast which is spoiled by rain. At the moment it is extremely windy here again, but with any luck it will have abated by Sunday.

I will barbecue something if the weather is ok – I’m trying to get more use out of it this year, as it is good to cook outside in the summer, and more economical than the oven/electric stove. We have an unused two ring gas burner as well, so need to get that connected then I’ll be able to cook whole meals outside, rather than just parts. There is something wonderful about cooking outside provided you get organised properly, but if you don’t it can be a pain, in my experience. As there are only two of us it sometimes doesn’t seem worth the effort, but I’m determined to persevere this year. Just a matter of a change of focus, probably, along with all the other “crisis” driven changes in all our lives here in Greece. Lateral thinking is the order of the day for everyone at the moment – finding creative solutions to problems caused by lack of money.

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