New Year 2021

Inspirational Music. Well I think it has to be Lady Gaga and the American National Anthem. I know it still ain’t a perfect world but at least we can have an optimistic warm glow for a bit.

Rain from the West on the kitchen window

This blog has gone a bit interior. I think that’s the effect of wintery weather with a slight dose of hibernation. Our main source of heating is the fireplace – glassed in so we can see the flames, but the whole brick surround heats up and keeps the warmth in until the morning. We have A/C that also works as air source heating. Not hugely effective but they can take the chill off a room. We have ample stocks of logs. Al has made himself fire supremo.

More Winter Pix

A quick collection at random – we often walk Max’s dog’s (Maxine Maas, Storm & Bramble). Christmas Day on the beach drawing in the sand, the olive harvest still goes on.


Fascinating story from WIRED., about a man who walked without a phone and died in a tent in an American National Park. Why would he do this? In what circumstance might any of us choose this?

Virus in the Body with an interesting and unexpected history of vaccination

Book-wise, have finished OVERSTOREY, after a delay through having to return it to Libby (free e-library App) and re-borrow it for the final section. Also “The New Wilderness”- a dystopian future where wandering in nature is forbidden, apart from an experimental tribe. Also about mothers and daughters. Are futures ever not dystopian? Now reading BURNT SUGAR, set in Pune, so interesting in that way. A different kind of mother-daughter story that I am finding a bit claustrophobic. Maybe all mother daughter stories turn out the same way…. I think I am due an escapist thriller anytime now.

Oh and we are reading Brian Eno’s 1995 diary aloud in the evening, just the entry for that day. Interesting for anyone who was living through those heady days of the nascent web, Windows 95 and the possibilities that the Internet offered. Eno has many of the same interests and contemporaries as we do, so all kinds of resonances.


Cooking and Eating

Thinking about what I miss. Mostly a few spices. Patak’s aubergine pickle, maple syrup, tamari, tofu, leafy coriander. I have just been browsing the HAPPY PEAR’s recipes. For anyone who hasn’t met them and their Vegan recipes, take a look. They have recipes on the web, also videos if you like that kind of thing. I am tempted to try their sweet potato fritters for a projected picnic. A couple of weeks ago we spent a few hours on the beach. The water was a little cool at 18º. Nothing to real cold water swimmers, but bear in mind, ours is a snorkelled stroll.

Back to food. We have been the lucky recipients of olive oil from friends and neighbours. This year’s crop was plentiful, and tasted good to me, although we heard that maybe it wasn’t generally high quality. I use nothing else for cooking here, although some of the older recipes call for clarified butter. I think I haver seen that in the supermarket but need to properly translate the label to make sure I’m not buying goose fat.

I think I promised a fast moussaka recipe sometime back. The secret, which some find absolutely sacriligious, (TJB, you know who you are) is to chop the veg into small dice. So, I say, forget the idea of multiple layers. Find a large frying pan. Put in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, then fry chopped onion, turn the heat down a bit after initial blast, then add your prepared aubergines. (Slice, salt, press in colander for an hour or more if you can. Wring them out in tea towel. If you have to miss this bit out, don’t worry it will work anyway.) Dice the aubergine slices small – almost like diced carrots. Smaller they are, the faster they cook. Same with the potatoes. Add these to the mix in the frying pan and turn down the heat some more. Leave them alone while you make the sauce (basic béchamel – you know what to do). Assemble the whole lot – potato mix first, can of chopped tomatoes next, sauce on top. Hot oven for around 30 minutes. If you have a deep dish (I don’t) you can layer it up, but for speed, keep it shallow. I have wasted too much of my life waiting for there potato component of moussaka to cook. Oh and you can put parmesan on top about 20 mines in. More cheese optional. Can add it to sauce but IMHO it’s unnecessary.

Another good vegan recipe last night – Pasta e Fagioli


No apologies if I have mentioned this before, CALL MY AGENT – unmissable. Season 4 and final just releasing on Netflix. Famous French actors play themselves , and other actors play the staff of an Agency. Excellent and very French!

Slightly weird film ENORME from MY FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL. A man tricks his partner into getting pregnant then hijacks the pregnancy. Surprisingly good epidural birth sequence. Avoids slapstick, sentimentally, was kind of educational in an odd way. Free to S. America, the rest of the world has to rent the major movies, shorts are free.

TODAY 22 January

I have to be careful that this blog doesn’t turn into an endless piece of blog knitting that in the end strangles me as I try to get it out the virtual door…. And don’t let it hit you in your virtual ass on the way out. See? Time to let go.

Friday is our cleaning morning, curiously enjoyable since the house is SO easy. Tiled floors downstairs, wooden floors upstairs. We shift all chairs etc outside so we get a clear run. Terrace downstairs, balconies upstairs. Everything outside, doors and windows open to air. AL vacuums all floors, I wash them with my favourite ‘Blue Planet’ eco all-purpose cleaner, a mop and bucket. Lovely. We change the bed, wash the sheets and towels if the weather is good. I clean the bathrooms, bag up the rubbish – one bag per week for eco reasons. Ιn a short time, we’re done and the house looks great. I wish I had discovered this method years ago. I think it means I am on my way to a major life declutter.

Bristol seems very far away, and although I can probably envisage every corner of our house, every thing in it, practically, I can’t say I miss any of it very much. The dishwasher is good. I realise that I spent too much time shopping on the internet for things I didn’t really need. That’s possible here, but somehow less attractive. And less possible now, post Brexit. Radio 4 has also departed my life – even The Archers. I could listen here, but instead I choose podcasts. I read much more here, free of charge thanks to the LIBBY library App (thank you Sally Randle). I buy a few books from Apple / Amazon. We have long ago exhausted our paper versions except for Brian Eno (see above). We have also been much more selective about what we watch. Currently the first series of StarTrek which I have never seen. And now we can get back to CALL MY AGENT.

The Future

I don’t really want to say it, but in many ways Corona virus has been kind to us. Hesitant because it could still disable or kill us, as well as those we know, and the countless souls that I think about every day. Not so much the dead, but the disabled and those left behind in the pain of loss. For us it has given us our year in Crete, and with it enough of a taste of life here that we know that we will make every effort to stay. Part of this intention is that we can offer a taste of this amazing place to you, gentle reader. (I like to think that my friends are uncritical and well-disposed).

It’s worth mentioning that because of these virus times, we have ahead of us a world of exploration. We know our immediate neighbours and count several of them as friends; but we have yet to get to know the Greek people who live around us. In normal times, there would be invitations to come in, to have coffee, biscuits, cakes and stumble around in fragmentary Greek / English. But in Covid times this can’t happen. Our Greek neighbours clearly know us. Practically every car and truck that passes us when we are out walking gives us the short toot, that is mostly all you ever here from Greek vehicles. It means ‘hi’, and it’s an acknowledgement of our existence as humans and neighbours. It’s probably true to say that they know us far better than we know them. The local postman has figured out where we live and now leaves our post at the house, rather than with our neighbours whose house we stay in.

Enough. Time for my floor washing. Oh joy!

COMING SOON: end of Veganuary and dry January. I may be cheesed out and drunk!!