30 April 2010

House on the beach anyone?

Last year we sold a lovely three bedroom, semi detached, bungalow style house by the beach on the tiny west coast bay of Kanouli at a very good price. Today I had to ask the owner to repeat himself to see if I had heard correctly today, when he said that he was prepared to reduce the price of the second house to an amazing 260,000 euros, totally finished, or 230,000 euros in its current condition, which is two thirds finished.

It has always been one of my favourite areas. A small west coast sandy bay with just a few houses around it and a short distance to some great tavernas, a few minutes drive to Agios Mattheos for shopping and RIGHT AT THE BEACH!! Usually even a piece of beachfront land is around the 300,000 euro level, so a nice house and garden, for a lot less than that is absolutely unique.

20 April 2010

Time for flowers

As Spring gets under way, the time has come to fill all the pots and borders, and where better to do it than the garden centre at Halikouna on the south-west coast.

I have to say it's not quite the same as UK garden centres - no shop for coffee and cakes, no sale of garden furniture and lavish pots and pergolas, just three large greenhouses filled with all kinds of flowers and plants. In fact you go with the intention of buying 'just a few' for pots and end up with a car full! I do seem to remember that last year we went for a few to put outside the shop and ended up with some for the shop, some for me at home, some for our Dassia office, etc. Somehow they just give you that feelgood factor!

19 April 2010

Me and my bright ideas

I've long been reading about the benefits of mulching flower beds, and after a lot of persuasion, loved-one bought a very powerful and vicious looking shredding and chipping machine. Having the gardens at two villas and our own house to look after, the idea of mulching the flower beds with a layer of garden waste sounds great - less watering, less weeding and lots of nutrition for the plants. Little did I know how hard I would have to work to produce this wonderful stuff.

On Sunday afternoon, when most normal gardeners would be gently potting up a few geraniums and petunias, yours truly was doing battle with the demon shredder. We shredded a mountain of olive tree prunings, and various other bushes which have been pruned over the last couple of months. Each branch is loaded into the hopper at the top and then the blades grab it and chop it up. The mulch comes out at the other end into a waiting crane bag, and every so often you have to shove the pile to the other end of the bag - very dusty and dirty work. I arrived home feeling like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards, or nearly forwards into the shredder as it turns out.

Today I begin spreading the mulch over my newly weeded beds - watch this space for through the summer progress reports.

Judas Trees

This year the Judas Trees gave us a lovely display in the week leading up to Easter. They are the beautiful bright pink trees which have blossom on their bare stems. Once the flowers finish, the round shaped bright green leaves appear, and later on a pea-shaped seed pod.

This photo was taken last week on the road leading into Kassiopi, to be re-named "Judas Avenue".

13 April 2010

Work force in Greece! No wonder we've gone bankrupt.

The following email joke is circulating, which I have attempted to translate below.

Searching for the causes of the present problems and coming to the conclusion that the government has not yet started to work...
along comes an email explaining everything!


For some years I have tried to find out why I feel tired, and have blamed lack of sleep. Now, however, I've discovered the real reason... I am tired because I am working far too hard!

The population of this country is 11,000,000

5,100,000 are pensioners or infants - that leaves us 5,900,000 to work.

Of those, 3,000,000 are studying (Junior School up to Postgrad) - so there are 2,900,000 left to work.

Of those, 800,000 are in the army (either professionally or doing national service) - so that leaves us 2,100,000 to work.

Take away the 1,500,000 civil servants - leaving 600,000 to work.

If you think that at any given time there are 188,000 in hospital - that leaves us 412,000 to work

There are also 358,998 in prison - leaving us 58,002 to work

So if you also consider that there are 58,000 registered unemployed - fairly obviously there are only 2 people to do the work.

You and me.

And you are wasting time reading emails!

12 April 2010

Designer Biscuits

Photo taken last week in the office, when the conveniently located packet of biscuits came into its own as an essential part of planning the location of three new properties shortly to be built in the Kato Korakiana area of Corfu.

5 April 2010

There's a lot more to Greece than financial difficulties!

And Easter is the time to discover it all.

What a magical experience this past week has been. To start with the weather has been nigh on perfect - sunny and warm, with the scent of jasmine, wisteria and gorse all around us, plus the all pervading "pinkness" of the scenery due to the flowering Judas trees wherever you look. Add to that the orchestrated build up of atmosphere during Holy Week, with church services daily - each one different, each one exactly the same throughout the whole of the Greek Orthodox church.

Tradition is a big part of life in Greece, and I found attending some of the services both in our village and in Corfu town extremely moving. Vast amounts of people crowd the churches - some holding candles and following the service in their prayer books, others just "passing through" but stopping to light candles, kiss the icons and cross themselves before they leave. Church attendance is not confined to a certain type of person either. The whole of Greek society is represented - and every age as well. I should think the average Anglican vicar would give his eye teeth to have such a congregation appreciating his sermons.

Corfu is renowned for its Easter celebrations and differs from the rest of Greece in many ways. Possibly the most impressive feature is the number of philharmonic bands that parade through Corfu town, and the villages, playing the appropriate music of the day. On Good Friday the music is funereal and sombre. On Saturday it is triumphant, following the "Proti Anastasi" or First Rising celebration early in the morning.

The amazing pot-throwing spectacle at 11a.m. on Saturday has to be seen to be believed. How is it possible for so many people to crowd into the centre of Corfu town without getting injured by falling pots? The spit-roasted lamb on Easter Day is, for many, an end to forty days of varying degrees of fasting, and as always in Greece, the host and hostess cater for at least twenty more guests than they have actually invited!

Some things never change, and I hope it will take more than a financial crisis to dampen the enthusiasm of the average Greek for his country, its traditions and its ability to celebrate come what may.

Happy Easter

Finally – Spring on the island of sunshine, flowers and blue sea. It certainly seems to have been a long winter, so thank heavens it is finally behind us and we can look forward to the long hot summer. Whatever the state of the world, life in Corfu just seems to carry on as normal.

We have been looking at our property selection, and decided to pick out a few of our favourites, and also some of those properties which really are incredible value for money. They can be seen in our latest newsletter.

1 April 2010

Corfu - the Divide?

There's been a bit of talk recently about a supposed north/south divide in Corfu. For various reasons, the north is considered to be more "up-market" than the south, and of course all sorts of, sometimes strong, opinions have been expressed by people totally convinced that the south is better than the north or vice versa. Luckily, those of us who live here are not actually obliged to decide one way or the other which of the two we prefer. We can visit anywhere we want as often as we want.

To my mind an even more interesting potential divide is the east/west one. We get lots of clients wanting sunset views so they automatically go into the west camp. Others are looking for proximity to sandy beaches - again into the west camp. Yachtsmen and other sailors tend to head for the numerous jetties and harbours of the east coast. Also into the east camp go those looking for fishing villages and old stone houses. My own reason for choosing the east (if I had to join one camp only) would be for the moon rising over the distant hills of Albania.

Whichever your own preference, Corfu is many islands in one. Beaches - yes, we've got them - soft sand, hard sand, shingle, pebbles, rocks, shallow sea, deep sea, waves or mirror smooth. Mountains - yes, those too - olive groves, pine forests, cypress trees and bare scrubby undergrowth. Hill-villages, fishing harbours, holiday resorts and a Venetian capital city. We really are lucky, aren't we?