26 November 2009

Christmas Craft Fair

The perfect solution for unusual Christmas presents! The annual Craft Fair takes place this Friday (2pm - 9pm), Saturday (10am - 9pm) and Sunday (10am - 5pm) at the Community Centre in Viros, 4km south of Corfu Town. Take the road signed to the right from the main Lefkimmi road (about 3km from the Airport), which has a blue Viros sign. Follow this for approx 2km and you will come to a junction with two roads off to the left - the school and community centre are here.

On offer are Christmas cakes and other festive 'foodie' type stuff, plus gifts, cards etc. Definitely worth a visit.

Hands up who remembers the rain!

Diana said today that we shouldn't write any more about the weather, but the fact remains that we have had more than two weeks of absolutely glorious sunshine and it is a shame to ignore it, especially in the context of the doom and gloom of the general economic climate. Greece has had its knuckles rapped well and truly for getting into horrendous debt and I suspect we shall all be paying for it for many years to come. So thank goodness for the sunshine!

The photo is taken from the terrace at Tsika above Kassiopi. This is an attractive traditional stone house with pool in need of some renovation and lots of love. Offered for sale at an amazingly low price for the location which is right in the heart of "villa land". Yours for 350,000 euros.

25 November 2009

Are we being taken over?

It feels as if we are indeed being taken over - by Chinese emporiums! There have been several in Corfu Town for a few years, and our new English Imports and Corfuhomefinders shop/office is virtually next door to two Chinese shops which have been there for a couple of years.

Then there were two large ones on the main road going north, then one in the old bathroom supplies building near the airport, then another one on the Kontokali road, then one in Vrioni, just south of Town, and now another one is opening in the old Sconto supermarket building near the airport. And they are not just shops, they are massive buildings (for Corfu, that is) - China Town, China City, China World - soon we will have China Planet I suppose - and they all sell pretty much the same cheapie clothes. We used to see gypsy vans all over the island selling clothing to people in the villages, but I guess they will disappear now - unless of course they are shopping from the Chinese bargain shops, to sell on!

Is this really winter in Corfu?

Looking back on the blog I realised that I wrote the last one on 14th November, just when the nice weather kicked in again. Ten days later and we are still pretty much basking in sunshine, despite some mornings last week with fog so thick that Corfu Town was literally 'covered in a blanket of fog'.

Very strange feeling, leaving home in a grey mist, dazzled by the sun on top of the mountain, back into the mist on the coast road, sunny in Benitses and Perama, then thick, thick fog around Corfu Town (including the airport - yes of course, cancelled flights again).

However once the fog clears, the sun is wonderful - Sunday lunch by the sea in late November is hard to beat, long may it last - or will we pay for it later on in the winter?

14 November 2009

This is why we love living in Corfu!

Last week was hideous in terms of weather to the point where one of our neighbours in Halikouna called me last night to see if I realised that the road near our house was in danger of subsiding into the sea, having been virtually swept away by all the rain.

Today I got up and started on my drive to work, came down the mountain and was dazzled by the sun, and then when I hit the coast road this is the scene that greeted me - bright sunshine, sparkling sea and a fishing boat surrounded by hundreds of seagulls, real picture postcard stuff! That's when I remembered why I came to live here, and how lucky I am to have this drive alongside the sea as my daily drive to the office.

13 November 2009

This really brightened up a miserable day!

The weather had been totally depressing and vile for several days and we were all getting thoroughly fed up with wading to and from the car and looking at houses where the views had vanished in the clouds, so when I set off along the west coast, in the rain yet again, I was just expecting a slow grey journey.

On the narrow road high above Agios Gordis I had to wait whilst a people carrier did a precarious 5 or 6 point turn in the road and I was right behind the car when the driver finally managed his turn. I looked into the back of his car and nearly drove off the road in surprise, when I saw that the white face in the back window was not a dog, but was in fact a goat, sitting there beautifully on the back seat peering back at me!

I followed the car all the way to Corfu Town and he sat there good as gold the entire journey, as if he was thoroughly enjoying the trip. I must say it definitely raised my spirits, and I spent most of the journey doing exactly what one is supposed not to do and took his photo with my phone - hence the fact that he is just a white blob in the back window, for which I apologise.

9 November 2009

Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms

Isn't it funny how one conversation on a certain subject somehow starts the ball rolling and all of a sudden wherever you look, whoever you talk to and whatever you read is about that particular topic? This past week it has been mushrooms.

Starting with an item on the Agni Travel message boards about mushrooms in Corfu - which are edible and which are most definitely not, where to find them, whether to eat them if you are not sure what sort they are (fairly obvious, I would have thought), we then had a client who found mushrooms in the bushes near the villa she was viewing and picked them excitedly telling us that they were perfect for making soup. The caretaker of the villa strongly disagreed, however, and insisted that she throw them away and wash her hands as they were very very poisonous! Who to believe?

It is true that mushroom stories abound, from my friend who knows exactly where to find chanterelles but won't tell me in case I get there before her, to the one about the Spartilas family who picked mushrooms from the same spot every year until the time when they all ended up in hospital.

Greeks tend to err on the side of caution, or is it just that they love telling horror tales? English ex-pats love the idea of foraging for food, and insist that if you know your facts you can't go wrong. I love mushrooms, and love the idea of eating for free from the surrounding countryside, but when it comes to being certain about a particular mushroom, well, I'm just not, so I will continue buying mine safely from the supermarket.

We were once given a large basket-full by the nun who lived in the monastery below our house - try these, she urged, they are delicious. Thanking her profusely we took them home, looked at each other and threw them in the bin! Two days later she asked us "Didn't you eat the mushrooms, then?" and we made suitably embarrassed noises that could have passed for either a yes or a no. Later on we both had the same thought at the same moment. "How did she know we hadn't eaten them?" "Are the children/dogs/cats so annoying that she wanted rid of us and is wondering why we are still alive?" We did accept the homemade wine, however, even though it had olive oil poured into the neck of the bottle supposedly to preserve it!

7 November 2009

Life is full of coincidences (or living proof that Corfu really is a small world!)

Today a friend who has a car rental company came into the office and after a few minutes conversation she said 'We had a car stolen the other day - the driver left it with the keys in just for a second and a man jumped in and drove off. Someone who saw it said that he headed off southwards towards the airport - I dont suppose you know anything, you live south don't you?'

As it happens, when I got close to home on Tuesday I noticed a white Marbella on the side of the road with its lights on. On Wednesday it was still there, still with lights on, and I made a mental note to see if anyone realised - then promptly forgot about it and couldn't actually remember if it was still there when I drove into Town this morning. I mentioned it to her, and she drove down to Strongili to see if by any chance it might still be there as it might just be her stolen vehicle. And guess what? It was! Flat battery but otherwise intact. Small worlds are useful sometimes aren't they?

2 November 2009

"Apache Country"

What strange seasons we are having at the moment - torrential rains, gale force winds, and high waves followed by calm seas, blue skies and wonderful temperatures.

To make the most of the latter we went out for lunch today, at Agnadio, high above Ipsos on the way to Spartillas, to take advantage of what might be the last chance for comfortable al fresco dining.

As we were looking down towards the sea, we saw spirals of smoke rising from three or four points behind the bay - just like 'Apache country' said Sarah, which I guess it was!