29 October 2009

Restaurant Re-Opening

The Invisible Kitchen hosted a party on Saturday evening to kick off their winter programme. In the most wonderful setting of a converted stone olive press in the tiny hamlet of Pythos (between Acharavi and Kassiopi) the food is amazing and I highly recommend that you taste it for yourselves!

Open on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes from 31 October, booking is advised. Ben and Claudia can be contacted on 26630 98051 or 6976 652933.

Kali Orexi!

23 October 2009

Christmas comes early in Corfu

The problem with Corfu is that in some ways the entire year gets compressed into the six months of the summer season and instead of seeing friends all year, and celebrating Christmas, Easter etc. with them, we very often have to say goodbye at the end of the season, as people go off to to other parts of the world for winter work.

So it was with the staff and manager of Monarch and some of their closest friends. Instead of just saying goodbye and sending Christmas cards later, Stuart, the Area Manager, decided to celebrate Christmas just a little early! Christmas tree, mince pies, fully laid table and there you have it - October Christmas in Corfu! We are currently awaiting a promised delivery to our office of early Christmas mince pies, baked by Stuart, before he leaves for his winter job in The Gambia, so that we too can enjoy the early 'Monarch Christmas', hope he doesn't forget.

Green Brain

My parents have taken to having their afternoon constitutional around the harbour at Ipsos and they came back proudly clutching these strange fruit. As big as grapefruit, and with a very ugly, knobbly texture, they have a sticky sap inside.

Known as "Osage Orange" the tree is not particularly unusual or attractive, but the female produces these very unusual seed pods in the autumn. Apparently squirrels love the seeds inside, but they are inedible to humans.

22 October 2009

English Imports - jammed with stock again!

In years gone by our previous shop used to be so full of stock that we literally walked around trying to find a home for things, but for the past few months whilst we changed premises, we let the stock run down, so there was not so much to move. Last week we decided it was time to re-stock, so Susan and I went off to the UK on a buying trip. For the last two years we did not actually visit suppliers on their premises and went instead to the massive trade fairs where they all exhibited, but this time we decided to go to the factories and mills and catch up with the people we hadn't seen for ages.

Well, thank god we gave up selling clothes. Nearly all of the clothing suppliers seem to have closed down, mainly apparently due to the influx of incredibly cheap Chinese clothing (which of course we see here in Corfu), so we were a bit worried visiting the furniture, linens and accessories places. However, they all seemed to be well stocked and we were able to meet up again with people we have been working with for over 15 years now, chat about current trends, look ahead to next year's designs and generally catch up with what is currently on the market. Very nice!

The first delivery came last week - with another on its way - and now we are jammed with linens, clocks, pictures, furniture, soft furnishings, gifts, cards, china, early Christmas bits - just like old times in fact!

For anyone who wants to visit us, we are easy to find at 43 G. Markora, just above San Rocco Square, opposite the rear entrance of Koskinas/Markato, and the slipper shop, two doors away from Xenoglosson book shop - how is that for a description. Any difficulty, call 26610 47692 for directions.

18 October 2009

Musical Corfu

The Philharmonic orchestras of Corfu are renowned throughout the world. The first philharmonic society was formed during the period of the British Protectorate, when it was normal for a British military band to perform at the island's important events. In 1837 however, the British refused to provide musical accompaniment for Orthodox religious processions, so three years later in 1840 the Philharmonic Society of Corfu was founded. There were so many enthusiastic supporters of the society that gradually over the years bands were formed throughout the entire island and today Corfu has 18 philharmonic orchestras. All are non-profit making organizations, and apart from performing at celebrations, events and religious occasions, they provide free music lessons to children and adults alike in their respective villages.

The Philharmonic Society of Skripero was the third band to be formed in Corfu - in May 1909, and has been celebrating its centenary with a programme of concerts throughout Corfu and the rest of Greece, culminating tonight in a performance at the Athens Concert Hall of various classical, Greek and contemporary works, many of them not normally associated with brass band instruments such as Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez". The same programme was performed earlier this week in the Ionian Academy building in Corfu town and as adopted Skriperoans (we have lived in the village since 1980) we were in the audience to clap and wonder that such a small village can produce such a huge amount of talent.

14 October 2009

What a change!

On Saturday we were roasting on the beach, today (Tuesday) we were freezing whilst showing a villa - a snip at its reduced price of 379,000 euros - near the village of Ag. Deka in the hills above Benitses. The temperature has dropped more than 10 degrees in three days and we are digging out winter clothes and warmer shoes. When the sun comes out it is still pleasant, and the forecast is for warmer weather again before autumn sets in properly, but the wind today was chilly - though the view cheered us up.

Big Tomato

A recent gift from a neighbour! Having just got back from England where we ate tomatoes from Tesco, I am more than usually impressed with the quality and flavour of our local produce. This one tasted absolutely delicious.

12 October 2009

Wildlife Spotting

I saw a fox this morning on my daily dog walk. This isn't so unusual in the UK where the car headlights often pick out a fox in the dark, but it is the first time I have ever seen a fox here in Corfu. It was a strong healthy looking animal with a bright coat and a lovely bushy tail with a white tip.

Later in the day, doing some gardening, I jumped back as an "oxia" or adder moved across the grass, probably a lot more afraid of me than I was of it. It's easy to forget about snakes, but something we should all be aware of when walking around outdoors, particularly in the spring. This one was quite slow, presumably getting ready to hibernate.

10 October 2009

The Lotus Eaters

My friendly neighbour who keeps geese and sometimes gives me eggs stopped me yesterday morning to give me a bag full of these lovely lotus fruit. Known also in English as persimmon, they have to be very ripe to be eaten, otherwise they are extremely bitter and inedible. Once soft and seemingly over-ripe, you scoop the flesh out with a spoon.

Legend has it that Odyseus' men ate lotus fruit and refused to leave the island. Try some - you may never want to leave either!

8 October 2009

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Day this year falls on Sunday 8th November. There will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Corfu's British Cemetery at 11.45 am. Civil or military decorations may be worn for this occasion and as in previous years, those attending the Cemetery are invited for drinks and snacks between 13.00 and 14.00 at the Anglican Church.

7 October 2009

Sparkling, bright and blue


Today we went out to catch up on some property photos and videos (at present just practising!) and one of the houses we visited was St. Nicholas Bay in the north of the island. Whilst we were there, looking from the balcony down towards the swimming pool and out to sea, we couldn't help thinking 'is there a more sparkling, brighter blue sea ANYWHERE?'.

Which of course led us on to thinking that whilst we occasionally moan about life in Corfu (and we definitely do have those 'cup half empty' days) when we go out on days like this, what better place is there to live and what better job could there be? However, will someone remind me I said that later on in the winter when we are slithering through mud to look at plots of land!

5 October 2009

Good on you Thomsons!

We are all very good at complaining about the airlines, both the charters and Easyjet, and I have experienced Easyjet delays, where there is no compensation, little information, just a delay.

This weekend I needed to come back to London, so I duly booked a 9.00 pm flight through Thomsons. Of course, it had to be the signal for one of the worst storms in the last couple of months, so originally we missed our departure slot, then we had to wait until the storm passed over, and THEN the plane developed a fault. Through the last two hours of this we sat on the plane waiting for imminent departure. But at least we had regular information and the crew put a video on to pass the time.

Eventually, when it was finally decided that the plane couldn't leave, the passengers were taken to hotels for the night and then brought back to the airport an hour before departure the next day. Many hotels had begun to close down for the end of the season, so many clients ended up in five-star hotels for the night. Those local residents who decided to go back to their homes left a contact number to be advised what time to be back at the airport the next day.

I got a phone call originally saying to be back before 11.00 am, but then quickly a second call saying 12.00 midday would be fine. Then, of course I got stuck in traffic (political rally!) and was worried I would miss the departure. I called the handling agents who said not to worry and to let them know when I arrived. I finally arrived about 30 minutes late, went straight through and boarded. The captain and crew and crew apologised again for the delay and inconvenience and everyone was offered a complimentary drink and a meal, regardless of whether they had pre-booked one or not.

I have to say I do complain occasionally about the charter flights and do use Easyjet because of the greater flexibility in flight days BUT, in this instance, Thomsons really did look after their clients, so good for them.