Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Things Don't Half Change

An era is drawing to a close. Ever since we arrived here [8 years and counting] we've been collecting our mail from the Agapitos Taverna up in the village of Asklipio. Athanasia is a down-home Greek housewife who is almost never missing from the taverna's kitchen. As I've often said before, the Agapitos is a no-nonsense, no-frills traditional taverna set in a charming old village. It's run by Athanasia, who's probably in her mid-fifties. She's fairly short (well, since I'm just over six foot, I could be exaggerating!) and quite full of figure. She's invariably dressed in brown with an apron seemingly perpetually attached to her front. Her husband is Agapitos himself, after whom the taverna is named. He's about the same height, has swept back white hair and a white moustache. He's probably at least ten years older than his wife, something quite common in Greek villages. I've yet to encounter Agapitos without a smile plastered across his face. 

He's often to be seen tending the garden that sweeps steeply down from the taverna's terrace, carefully deadheading his huge geraniums, clipping his rose bushes or - if it's winter time - cutting back the climbers that grow continually over the pergola that covers the taverna's terrace whilst perched precariously on a wobbly stepladder. He'll rarely let us visit without stopping to pass the time of day. We usually stroll into the taverna's interior, where in wintertime there will be a few locals either playing cards or dominoes, occasionally Backgammon, perhaps one or two already thumbing through stacks of bills in the shoe-boxes that serve as containers for the electricity or phone bills, which is often what we've come up here to do ourselves. Every one will have an Elliniko on the table before him, accompanied by a glass of water (there are a few recent shots of the taverna's outside terrace in this post).

In summer the inside of the premises are usually devoid of human life, with the immutable exception of Athanasia herself, who'll wipe her hands on her apron as she exits the adjacent kitchen area and steps behind the small desk in the corner, which was originally supplied by ELTA, the Greek national postal service, and which is usually piled high with mail of all shapes and sizes. Stacked on the floor in front there are also cardboard cartons sporting the "Amazon" logo awaiting collection by someone who ordered something, probably several weeks before. Athanasia is organised. When you approach her tiny sub-post office, which occupies an area of probably only a couple of square metres in the rear corner of the taverna, she'll soon be riffling through pile after pile of assorted envelopes and jiffy bags in order to locate the mail you've come to collect. Once she's handed you yours, you can be 100% confident that there is nothing else. Athanasia knows. That's all there is to it.

But now, it's all going to change. The powers that be somewhere high up in the ELTA organisation have deemed that there is no further need for a sub-post office at Asklipio and that all those who'd formerly collected their mail there will henceforth have to go to the Post Office in Gennadi. Rationalisation, cost-cutting, call it what you will, but it means that lots of people who for years have visited taverna Agapitos will now have no further need to climb the 4 km from the main coast road to this village unless they simply live up there or want to visit voluntarily. I'm sure that the taverna's business is going to suffer. When I asked Athanasia how she felt when she told me about this, she simply shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Eh, Gianni. Etsi pa-i [that's how it goes]."

Of course, the Post Office in Gennadi is only a Post Office, nothing more, which means, of course that its opening hours are  7.30am until 2.00pm Monday to Friday. No longer will we be able to send a letter or collect our mail on Saturdays or Sundays. No longer will we be able to collect our mail in the evening. At a stroke, several thousand more people will need to crowd into the tiny office of the Gennadi Post office to sift through thousands of envelopes to find the mail that's meant for them.

Hey ho. Progress eh? Of course, getting all melancholy about how things change, I was sifting through the shelves in my office at home earlier today and came across an old photo folder. You remember those. In the days when we'd take the film into the chemist to get it developed and then we'd hardly be able to contain ourselves waiting for the time when we could go in and collect our photos, they'd always come in that little folder, wouldn't they. Well, I found one with a diverse selection of old prints in it.

I soon found myself absorbed in memories and, before I knew it, I was scanning a few of them in so that I could amuse you with them. Well, hopefully you'll be amused, 'cos you're going to see a few of them anyway!!!

Here goes...

This is Kyria Despoina, who runs the Helios Studios at Makri-gialos, Crete. She'd turn up poolside each evening with something she'd made. In this case it was some milopittas (apple pies) made with filo pastry. We stayed there back in 2003 and 2004.

All together now, aaaaah!! It's me and the better half in the taxi as we were setting off from our wedding reception for our honeymoon in exotic Babbacombe, Devon.
This one's even older!! It was taken in a proper studio [Mower's, Bath] so we could each have a photo of the other whilst I was away at art college.
Finally, this is Sotiri (left) and Petros, waiters at Taverna Lagudera with her indoors, circa 1980 on the front on the island of Poros. Hopefully next year we're going back there for what will be the first time in 31 years!!!
Now stop laughing, it's not nice!!!


  1. Never mind stop laughing................it's impossible to laugh when your jaw is round your knees!!
    Shame about the 'post office' but maybe someone will see a business opportunity and collect everyone's mail for a 'small' fee......................

  2. My other half mentioned that it's such a long time since 12 year olds were allowed to marry in this country!!