Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I woke this morning to a new age, one in which I am labeled a year older than I was when I woke yesterday.  Strangely I feel no different.  Yesterday was the seventy-first anniversary of my arrival on this planet.  I marked the occasion by driving into the Tagetos mountains to enjoy lunch with Lisi at the Touristico Hotel on the summit of the Kalamata to Sparta road.  For the last few Kilometres before reaching the hotel I was driving between piles of snow-ploughed snow on a slushy snow-dusted road.  The hotel car park was covered with ankle-deep snow; the dining room was chilly but we found reasonably warm comfort at a vacant table near to a roaring, open wood fire.  During lunch snow began to fall.  A recently arrived family party occupying an adjacent table took fright, re-cloaked, gloved, scarfed and left to seek safer accommodation lower down the mountain.  By the time we departed, our car had become covered with a blanket of snow under which a rough coating of ice had frozen over the windscreen.  It was with some trepidation that I drove away from the hotel along a steeply-descending snow-covered road but there was little traffic to concern me and after fifteen minutes of so of very slow going we safely reached clear tarmac.

Will I remember this birthday?  As I can remember nothing of the other seventy it is unlikely.  If memorable birthdays are important, the fifth of January is not the best of dates to be born; particularly when they fall on a Monday!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gathering firewood

For many years past, wood burnt on the stove that has kept us comfortably warm through the depths of winter has been olive wood we recover from a couple of the many olive groves on the hills behind our home.

The wood has to be earned.  Oil-olive harvesting practice here is one of simultaneously gathering olives and pruning trees.  The olives are carted off to be processed into oil; the prunings, mixture of leaves, twigs and branches, are left in the grove for subsequent clearing.  From the two groves in which we enjoy rights of common of estovers, in return for our clearing and burning the smaller material we gain all the pruned larger branches and logs.
There is some irony in that, this year during which we hope to leave here to relocate to Ireland, we may well bring home the largest haul of firewood we have ever known.