Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Coffee, Cake and a Contribution

Last Friday we had another 'do', a coffee morning to raise some cash for the local Doctor's surgery at Gennadi. I had thought that maybe it wouldn't happen this year, until the redoubtable Dimitris Koronios breathed life into it again. For various reasons it hadn't looked likely, but Dimitris asked Julia what was happening and when, because after he'd added a further €2000 to the pot of €735 we'd raised in January 2016, he'd never doubted that he'd want to do something again this year and that we'd be doing the same.

Following our "bring and buy" last year Dimitris held an event in the square next to the school in Gennadi village, involving souvlaki, more table-top stalls and some live music, for which he'd had to do all sorts of paperwork to make sure the legalities were complied with. I'm full of admiration for the man because he singlehandedly got the local Greek community, plus quite a few local Albanians too (who make up a large percentage now of the population of the village) to rally to the cause. Dimitris is a young family man who owns a modest hotel in Gennadi, called the Summer Breeze (recently added to my "Stay" page BTW). If you're looking for a DIY holiday staying within a stone's throw of a quiet beach and easy walking distance to the centre of a quintessentially Greek village far from the hordes I can definitely recommend the Summer Breeze. An hotel it may be, but it retains the feel of a family pension and is indeed run by a young Greek family. The quality of the rooms and public areas (bar, restaurant) is spotless and the area nice and peaceful.

Anyway, our Dimitris had already earmarked a date to stage an event for "Help For Health Gennadi" in the village in 2017 and was expecting us Brits to have done our part as well. For reasons I won't go into here, I had my doubts whether we'd be able to have an event at our friend Julia's place. She, however, rang me up and said that although a fully fledged "bring and buy" may not be feasible, a coffee morning certainly was. Thus she and another friend Viv, who'd come on board last year when I'd organised the event, got the bit between their teeth, we fixed the day for Friday February 24th, and it was once more a going concern for 2017. This Year Julia and Viv did pretty much all the work, with me simply running the Facebook page to get everyone living in the area informed. 

The turnout on the day was very encouraging, even if the weather wasn't. The day dawned murky and the sky threatening the further south you looked and Julia's house (quite near to the village) is three kilometres south of ours. By the time 10.30am came around we'd had a cloudburst and the tables and chairs that Julia had set out for guests to sit around were drenched, as was the terrace around the house, which was not only wet but full of muddy paw marks from her two soppy dogs.

Ever the optimists that we are, we assured each other that the weather would improve and, sure enough, by the time people were entering the gates armed with Tupperware containers and foil-wrapped delights to contribute to the cakes, scones and pastries on offer, the sun had come out. By the time the morning was well along and the place was buzzing with a good selection of ex-pat Brits and not a few local Greeks (more than last year thanks to Dimitri's efforts to drum up support) the weather was balmy, the conversation lively and Viv's throat hoarse from trying to make herself heard as she shouted out the winners of the prizes in the modest little draw that they'd organised. I contributed a brand new copy of my latest novel "Sometimes You Just Can't Tell" as a prize and I've no idea who won it. I only hope they think it worth the modest investment for their ticket!

March 7th will see Dimitri's event take place in the village. I really hope that people will support it as last year we were able to buy so much useful, even essential, stuff for Doctor Nikos and his dedicated team at the health centre to put to use. Among the benefits gained from last year's event, was the fact that the centre was able to offer testing for diabetes and cholesterol to any local resident who cared to drop by and have a little blood taken. Thousands of local people were either reassured or forearmed about both of those things as a result of the cash we raised and spent on behalf of the centre.

The weather this week is gorgeous. Yesterday we spent the day in the garden and it was 22ºC in the shade, hardly any breeze and almost wall-to-wall sunshine...

What excites us is the amount of birdlife we now have in the garden. It's often said that if you create the right environment for wildlife, it will come. Eleven years ago the area around the house was a building site, full of old rubbish and junk left behind from the construction of the house. After a decade and more of graft, we now look around the garden and are amazed ourselves at what we've achieved, but even more so at the wildlife that now enjoys the fruits of our labours.

Yesterday, as I busied myself in the orchard, I cocked an ear to the different calls of the birds around me. Ten years go I'd have heard almost nothing. Now I hear blackbirds, jays, warblers, robins, black redstarts, stonechats, chaffinches, the occasional thrush and blue tit, sparrows, wrens and a few more besides. In summer we have hoopoes and bee eaters too. There are always buzzards circling high above and the occasional golden eagle. There are falcons and hawks too difficult for this rusty twitcher to now ID with any certainty. Plus, we're delighted that we also see goldfinches regularly. Yes, lots of these species are also found in the UK and on days like yesterday, if I close my eyes, I can imagine myself down a British country lane in June - and it's still only February.

As we sipped at our frappés under our hastily re-erected parasol and gazed down the valley, casting an eye around for the fallow deer that now live permanently around the house, we had to remind ourselves that we really need more rain. Water courses that normally run with a current for a couple of months at this time of the year are dry. In fact, we walked along to Glystra Beach yesterday and for part of the time we were following the river bed that in past years we'd not have been able to cross owing to the current having been up to our knees.

Yet still they build new hotels, with bigger and more impressive swimming pools. I'll not go down that road here today though. I'm feeling too positive about the garden, the wildlife and our efforts to help the local Health Centre in Gennadi. 

Incidentally, at the coffee morning at Julia's I met an ex-pat couple who've only been out here from Sussex for a few months. Tony is a very personable guy and his wife is (she'll forgive me not remembering her name yet) too. We spoke at some length and he told me that I was to blame for him being here. Look out Tony, you'll probably have a couple of guests for coffee some morning soon! I'll want to see if my investment pays off.

See folks, for all the uncertainty that surrounds the never-ending chit-chat about the Greek crisis and Brexit, there are still people sensible enough to up sticks and get on with it. Live your own life, and cross bridges when you get to them. Cheer up, much of what you speculate regarding such things will probably never happen anyway. Tony's done the right thing, I'm sure of it. If he ever decides that he hasn't, he'll be after my guts for garters!

A stretch of Kiotari Beach. February 27th 2017.


  1. Keep me photos and weather updates coming John. It'll Definitely help the last five weeks at work go quicker and then it's retirement and our own Rhodes adventure

    1. Where are you going to live Martin?

    2. We've rented a house on the beach at gennadi next door to my cousin Janette who I think you know.

    3. You'll have to forgive me Martin, I never see the obvious!! Must be the heat, it's 25ºC outside today (gloat)

  2. Ooh, forgot to mention too. chiffchaffs, we have chiffchaffs around us right now. Just been out to empty the ash from the wood-burner around a fruit tree or two and one was "chiff-chaffing" away out there. Magical. So reminds me of summer walks around Welsh reservoirs.